FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi asks UK to accept ‘new reality’ in Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday urged the United Kingdom to “accept the new reality” and assist the Taliban with aid to avert an economic collapse.
In an interview with the British publication The Independent, Foreign Minister Qureshi called on the UK and its western allies to assist the Taliban with supplies with “no political conditions attached”.
“My message [to the UK] is that there is a new reality in Afghanistan. Accept the new reality and let us work to achieve our objectives,” Qureshi told the British publication in Islamabad.
“Isolation will not help. It will lead to a humanitarian crisis, it will lead to an economic collapse and it will create space for elements who have not been helpful for you, me or anyone.”
Qureshi said that anarchy and chaos would ‘facilitate’ the unhelpful elements in Afghanistan.
“Don’t do that. Engagement we feel is a better option. If [the Taliban] are saying positive things, nudge them in that direction. Do not push them into a corner,” Pakistan’s top diplomat warned.
Qureshi dismisses claims of support to Taliban
The Pakistani diplomat also dismissed allegations that the Taliban’s rise to power was due to Pakistan’s facilitation.
Pakistan’s top diplomat once again reiterated that Islamabad would continue facilitating people wishing to leave Afghanistan via Pakistan with valid documents.
However, he said there was “no rush” on Pakistan’s borders and urged the people not to flee Afghanistan, as the country had become more “peaceful and stable” since the Taliban takeover.
“We have our limitations. [Pakistan has] been hosting now over 3 million, almost close to 4 million refugees for so many decades without any international help or assistance. We do not have the capacity to absorb more, honestly,” he told The Independent.
“Our preference is that [Afghans] stay within Afghanistan and they are provided security and safety within Afghanistan. As things stand at the moment I see no reason why they can’t stay in Afghanistan,” Qureshi said.
Taliban’s behaviour has changed
Pakistan’s top diplomat also observed that the Afghan Taliban’s behaviour has changed, compared with the 90s but stopped short of giving them the green signal.
“These are initial signs, which are not discouraging. Let’s see, if this is the direction that they follow,” he concluded.
“Let it evolve. Judge them on not by European standards judge them in line with their traditions and their culture,” he implored the West.
“Do not repeat [the mistakes of the] past. Let’s learn from them and not repeat them.”
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