‘Pakistan has played its part, time for people of Afghanistan to determine future’: FM Qureshi
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan played the role it had to play in the peace process in Afghanistan, now it was up to the country’s people to determine their future.
“Pakistan has always been in favour of peace,” Qureshi told BBC Urdu in an interview. “Now it is up to the people of Afghanistan to decide what they want to do. They need to decide what they want to do about their future and what country do they want.”
The foreign minister has also dismissed reports of Pakistan’s interference in the affairs of the country. “Pakistan has no plan to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. We want just good relationships with them,” he said.
When asked what Pakistan think of an inclusive government in Afghanistan, the foreign minister said, “If you want peace, there is no other way other than an inclusive government. The more you take people together, the better it would be. I hope the setup in the future is more inclusive.”
Speaking about the issue of prisoners release between the Afghan government and Taliban, Qureshi said, “Prisoner exchanges have also happened in the past. If releasing the prisoners helps in making the environment more conducive, then I think President Ashraf Ghani should think about this decision openheartedly.”
He continued, “I am confident President Ghani will keep Afghanistan’s interests and peace. I also know that the Americans have been keeping him in the loop with all the developments.”
The foreign minister noted that the prisoner exchange cannot be one sided. “If the prisoner exchange happens it has to be from both sides,” Qureshi said.
Just hours after the peace deal between the US and the Taliban, Ghani had rejected a key component of the agreement calling for thousands of insurgent prisoners to be freed.
In regards to spoilers, Qureshi said there were elements that were not happy about the contract.
“This is the first step towards peace and in the right direction,” said Qureshi, adding that some people didn’t want peace for their own interests in the region.
When asked whether he applied to a specific country, the foreign minister said he was not. “I point to those who wanted to take advantage of Afghanistan against Pakistan.”
“We do not want Afghanistan to be used by any group or organisation. We don’t want Afghanistan to be used against us or anyone.”
On the subject of the post troops withdrawal situation in the country, Qureshi said, the agreement happened because there had been no mechanism in the past. “Previously, there had been no mechanism or oversight. Keeping these experiences in mind, steps are being taken so something such as groups taking over does not happen.”
“Of course spoilers are there, but we have to take steps keeping in mind the bigger picture,” Qureshi remarked.
Earlier Pakistan had also warned of the position of spoilers trying to sabotage the agreement. Qureshi addressing a press conference one day after the signing of the agreement said, “We must keep our eyes on them. A system must be put in place to recognise those who play a negative role.”
In response to a question about the Afghan government’s reluctance, the foreign minister said, “When we look back in the past, a confidence gap has always existed. Pakistan has always wanted to push ahead. If we’re stuck in the past we can never do what we want for the future.
“We want our country to be safe,” he said. “There will be a border fence on the Pak-Afghan border to answer any allegations of movements on the border. I hope the Afghan government welcomes the decision and take it in a positive manner.”