PAKISTAN. Islamabad: In an inclusive interview with Afghan TOLO News with the Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, he discussed Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India ties, criticizing both the Indians and elements in Afghanistan in the way for reaching regional peace.
When questioned about the influence of India in Afghanistan, and how many Indian consulates are in Afghanistan, Pakistan Qureshi replied, “Well, on paper, perhaps four. You have every right to have sovereign and bilateral relations with India. You trade with India, they come and carry out development work there. That’s fine, that’s completely fine with us. But at times we feel that their presence is perhaps larger than it ought to be because they don’t share a border with you.”
He said, “If they used your soil against us, it bothers me.” When asked if India is using Afghanistan’s soil now, Qureshi said “Yes, they are.”
He asserted that India carries out “terrorist” activities in Pakistan, in Baluchistan. Talking about the long time Kashmir dispute, Qureshi noted that we think that the situation in “occupied” Jammu and Kashmir is a political situation, it is being mishandled.
Meanwhile, Qureshi was asked if Pakistan does recognize the activists of Lashkar-e-Tai a and Jaiah Mohammed as terrorist activities. In response, he changed the topic, and said, “Well, don’t put words into my mouth, I can speak for myself. But with India, we wanted reconciliation and the minute Prime Minister Imran Khan came into office, he said you take one step towards peace we will take two.”
“Frankly our government is very clear. We are supporting no terrorist group.”
Pakistan has been one of the key leverage to the Taliban and the Afghan peace process. Pakistani officials have repeatedly said their approach toward Afghanistan has changed now.
“We want Afghanistan to be peaceful and stable because we feel that a peaceful Afghanistan, a stable Afghanistan, gives us the regional connectivity that is required,” Qureshi said.
Qureshi believes that there are elements in the Afghan government that don’t want peace.
The following part of the interview of Qureishi has been criticized by many Afghans on social media, and many called him the spokesman of the Taliban.
“If you try and create this impression that the violence is high because of Taliban, again, that would be an exaggeration. Why do I say that? Aren’t there other elements over there who are playing the role of a spoiler? Daesh. Like forces within Afghanistan.”
“I think President Ghani has a very important responsibility on his shoulders that he has to show the leadership and the flexibility to achieve.”
No Taliban Sanctuaries in Pakistan
Qureshi rejected Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan and said most of their leaders “are in Afghanistan” and denied the presence of Quetta and Peshawar Shuras or councils in Pakistan.
Asked whether Taliban are “funded here in Pakistan,” Qureshi said: “These are very–those many things that have been going on for years. You’re stuck in the old groove. Get of out that groove, please. Get out of that groove. Now, listen, if you remain stuck in this, believe me, you will not be able to travel far. And we want you to travel far. We want reconciliation and peace.”