‘Afghanistan Mediating Between Pakistan, TTP in the Interest of All’

The Afghan foreign minister has expressed concern over Washington’s move to freeze Afghanistan’s funds and assets abroad, stating that the US has forced millions of Afghans into a humanitarian crisis, “which no one considers to be a violation of human rights”.

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi Saturday confirmed that Kabul is mediating between Islamabad and the banned outfit Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for peace in the country.

Muttaqi said there is no individual of the Islamic Emirate but as a matter of policy the whole Islamic Emirate is mediating between Islamabad and the banned TTP.

He expressed confidence that talks will yield positive results. “Establishment of peace and end of war is in the interest of all,” he said.

Afghanistan has welcomed the peace talks with the undertaking that it would continue to support Islamabad in its peace endeavors, an observer said.

The assurance according to APP came from Muttaqi, who was on his maiden visit to Islamabad and speaking at a program arranged by Islamabad-based think tank the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), as a guest speaker.

‘Anti-Pakistan elements had left Afghanistan’

The Afghan foreign minister claimed that all anti-Pakistan elements had left Afghanistan, and expressed hope that the Pakistan-TTP peace process would be extended. 

“We will do everything we can to ensure that the territory of Afghanistan is not used against anyone. The people of this region have suffered a lot, and we must not allow the suffering to continue,” he said. 

He dismissed the idea of integrating opposition leaders in the interim Afghanistan administration, stressing that no country has the authority to force Kabul to accept former governments’ representatives into the present governance system. The Taliban already have constituted an inclusive government that included representatives from all ethnic groups across the country, he claimed.

Inclusive government

Referring to different countries’ demands for different ethnic groups to be included in the government, Muttaqi reminded that Tajiks, Baloch, Turkmens, Nuristanis, Uzbeks and a number of other ethnic groups are part of the Kabul administration. “If by inclusivity they mean the participation of diverse ethnic communities in Afghanistan and people from different regions of the country, then our current cabinet and government meet the criteria,” he asserted.

He said if former president Ashraf Ghani’s government was considered inclusive, then all the people who worked in the previous administration had been kept in the current administrative system. “And if by inclusivity they mean political opposition figures have a seat in the cabinet and other high positions of power, then please show us an example of such a government anywhere in the world where opposition figures are also occupying positions of power,” he asked.

Castigating the demand, he said “we have never requested Biden to give a berth to Trump and his cabinet members. So why are they asking us?”

Muttaqi said while the US and NATO forces failed to bring peace to Afghanistan despite spending billions of dollars, the Taliban did so with limited resources, but “they still do not know what more they want from us”.

Pakistan, Russia, China and the United States on Thursday agreed to continue “practical engagement” with the Taliban government but asked them to follow “moderate policies”, while making it clear that the Kabul regime needed to do more before the international community formally recognized them.

The Afghan foreign minister told the gathering that the Taliban government had not dismissed a single woman and invited all of them back to work.

Muttaqi invited the international community to engage with Afghanistan and discuss the reforms they want in the country. “We proposed that we work toward it through cooperation rather than pressure, because pressure techniques have failed to produce results for the past 20 years and are still being used, implying that lessons have not been learnt,” the Afghan FM said.

In response to a question about human rights violations in Afghanistan, Muttaqi accused the US and its former allies in the country of imprisoning and killing thousands of innocent people while no one spoke out. “When Afghanistan’s prisons were packed with 35,000 people…village marketplaces were routinely raided, and hamlets were bombarded on daily basis…that was not regarded as human rights violations. Yet, now, when there is not a single political opposition leader in Afghanistan’s prisons, they claim that human rights are being violated,” he asserted.

The Afghan foreign minister expressed concern over Washington’s move to freeze Afghanistan’s funds, sarcastically stating that the US has forced millions of Afghans into a humanitarian crisis, which no one considers to be a violation of human rights.

Muttaqi arrived with a high-level ministerial team on Wednesday, met high-ups and other cabinet members responsible for trade, finance, and aviation here. Muttaqi said Afghan government had reopened 100pc of hospitals and health centers across the in the last two months, as well as 75pc of educational institutions. “We asked the international community to help us pay salaries to teachers, but they have so far ignored our request, instead of asking to open schools,” he added.

The foreign minister asked from where should they manage all of their institutions since the US had stopped their funds. He regretted that Western countries also had stopped aid to hospitals and health centers. “Despite the economic difficulties, we have started paying salaries to 500,000 civil servants who worked for the previous government but were not paid, and they have all returned to their duties,” he added. He expressed gratitude to Pakistan and its people for hosting millions of Afghans for the past four decades.