FM, adviser caution of disturbing circumstance in Afghanistan

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ISLAMABAD: secretary of state Shah Mahmood Qureshi and National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf warned on Friday that the annoying situation in Afghanistan could have serious implications for Pakistan and involved preparing for the changed reality.

They were speaking at the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

NSA Yusuf said that things in Afghanistan, following US withdrawal, had turned very bad. Pakistan, he said, didn’t have control over the happenings in Afghanistan.

He feared that Pakistan could, however, suffer the foremost from the intensified war in Afghanistan. He, moreover, worried that there was no economic decision to sustain Afghanistan.

Pakistan must ready itself for brand spanking new circumstances, Senate panel told

Emphasizing the importance of Afghanistan for Pakistan, the NSA said without peace in Afghanis­tan, Pakistan wouldn’t be ready to optimize its geo-economic paradigm.

FM Qureshi also shared an identical assessment about Afghanistan, saying that things there were rapidly deteriorating which Pakis­tan needed to ready itself for the new circumstances.

Violence in Afghanistan has increased manifold since foreign forces began leaving on May Day. Afghan Taliban, meanwhile, have made key advances by capturing large areas from the govt control. they’re also controlling a number of border crossings with neighboring countries.

It is being feared that the Taliban could soon capture Kabul. But the committee was told that as per the US assessment fall of Kabul wasn’t imminent.

There are, nevertheless, concerns that increased violence and instability in Afghanistan could lead to an influx of refugees. consistent with official estimates, up to 700,000 new refugees could reach here. Pakistan is already hosting about three million Afghan refugees.

The other fear is that Taliban ascendancy could embolden and revitalize Pakistani militants and their sympathizers, especially Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, which is currently based in Afghanistan. this might cause a resurgence of militancy and extremism.

“Pakistan is handling refugees with limited resources. We can’t absorb more refugees. we would like the three million refugees living here to return home,” Mr. Qureshi said.

Mr. Yusuf, while detailing the contingency planning, said: “Pakistan has erected a fence and began effective surveillance at border crossings.” Additional enforcement measures at the border crossings have also been taken, he added.

He, however, said that the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, would found out camps for the refugees if such a situation arises. within the first instance, he said, the effort would be made to form these camps on the Afghan side of the border.

Both Mr. Qureshi and Mr. Yusuf agreed that TTP may benefit from the Afghan Taliban getting dominance within the conflict, which could mean more violence within Pakistan.

“If TTP gets stronger, Pakistan will suffer,” the secretary of state opined.

The NSA said that TTP terrorists could enter Pakistan from Afghanistan within the guise of refugees and perform attacks.

He, however, rejected claims of the presence of Taliban militants in Gilgit-Baltistan. He dismissed a video clip about the Taliban at Babusar Top, which connects Kaghan valley with Chilas, as Indian propaganda and played it down as an isolated incident.

India, he said, was sponsoring the propaganda video about the Taliban in GB and spreading it. “There is not any organic presence of Taliban in Gilgit-Baltistan. Agencies have also made many arrests,” he maintained.

Talking about Pakistan’s role in facilitating peace efforts in Afghanistan, FM Qureshi said Islamabad had proposed power-sharing to avoid war in Afghanis­tan, but deep rivalries there prevented progress. Quoting Afghan High Peace Council chief Abdullah Abdullah, he said there have been very strong groupings and lobbies in Afghanistan’s ruling clique. Pakistan, he maintained, wasn’t during a position to deal with Afghanis­tan’s internal complexities.

The secretary of state, however, noted commonalities between Pakistan and US objectives for Afghanistan. “The US wants a negotiated settlement of the conflict and that we too want an equivalent,” he said.

The secretary of state recalled that Pakistan had wanted US forces to “orderly” withdraw, but they pulled out quickly for a secure withdrawal.

He said the US had assu­red Pakistan that it might keep a diplomatic presence in Afghanis­tan, continue humanitarian and security assistance, support the Afghan air force, and make sure the security of Kabul Airport.

Sherry Rehman, the committee’s chairperson, said members voiced concern about the impact of the accelerated United States’ exit, and therefore the security vacuum that has ensued.

Pakistan’s first priority, she said, must be to guard itself against a surge in violent extremism, also as a constructed narrative from certain spoiler quarters that Pakistan has got to bear the responsibility for both security and peace in Afghanistan.

She suggested that Pakistan must launch a diplomatic offensive for “a big-tent conference” that would help in negotiating peace and prop up the war-torn country.

Ms. Rehman said: “It isn’t the simplest time to be making enemies in any geopolitical contest within the region or within the broader global context, given our exposure to the multilateral system. Pakistan shouldn’t get trapped within the crosshairs of any new great game, or a minimum of managing a balance.”

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