WASHINGTON: The Taliban should respect international opinion and keep their promises to have an inclusive government and not allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorist groups, Pakistan’s foreign minister told reporters in New York at a briefing attended by Arab News.
“It would be a positive step for the Taliban to include ethnic Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara groups in their government,” said Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is attending the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.
The Taliban seem to be more “open-minded” than the last time they were in power in the 1990s, he added, calling for reconciliation and respect for human rights, including women’s rights.
“If the Taliban can demonstrate these objectives, it will be positive (for Afghanistan),” Qureshi said. “We believe that the reconciliation process in Afghanistan can’t be completed without the formation of a united government.”
He said the international community should allow Afghanistan to access its frozen assets abroad in order to alleviate its people’s suffering.
The international community, he added, can help stabilize Afghanistan politically and economically, and create an environment where its people do not have to flee and become refugees in neighboring countries.
Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades without international assistance, Qureshi said, adding that Islamabad’s strategic interest lies in a united Afghanistan that will not allow India to use it as a base to “destabilize” his country.
He said Pakistan seeks to recalibrate its relationship with the US based on trade, economic ties and fostering political stability in the region in the aftermath of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Bilateral ties should transcend the situation in Afghanistan, he said, adding that Pakistan helped and sided with the US in its “war on terror” after the 9/11 attacks, and facilitated American troop movements and logistics during its war in Afghanistan over the past two decades. “Pakistan hasn’t been recognized for what we’ve done (to help the US),” Qureshi said.