Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Friday that the recent bill introduced in the US Senate, seeking investigations into the role of Pakistan in Afghanistan, was an attempt to “pass the buck” but stressed that one must not be overly “obsessed” with the proposed legislation.
“To me it (the draft bill titled ‘Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act of 2021’) is an attempt to pass the buck and Pakistan has sufficient reasons to defend its case,” Qureshi told a joint news conference with his Danish counterpart, Jeppe Kofod.
The 57-page draft bill made several references to Pakistan. It seeks investigation into the role Pakistan played from 2001 to 2020, fall of Kabul and the Afghan Taliban takeover of Panjshir valley, the last province offering resistance to the Taliban rule.
The Foreign Office already reacted to the draft bill calling it as “unwarranted.” When asked at the presser about the proposed bill, Qureshi replied that Pakistan could not overlook the implications of the move initiated by the Republican senators.
“We are cognisant and we will do everything possible to explain what the correct position is,” Foreign Minister Qureshi said.
“We also understand as the bill stands right now it does not have bipartisan understanding. It is a bill presented by a group of Republican senators who have had the view that the government of the United States should have responded to the situation in Afghanistan.”
Qureshi said that Pakistan believed in engagement and communication, while defending its interests. “They (US senators) have to understand the positive role Pakistan has played in fighting terrorism, they have to understand the positive role played by Pakistan in facilitating the peace process,” he said.
Qureshi was of the view that the US politicians needed to find out the causes behind the “debacle in Afghanistan”, and stressed that “scapegoating” Pakistan would not help the cause.
“They have to understand that a partnership with Pakistan is required in future as well to achieve stability in Afghanistan and the region” he noted. “Let’s not be excessively obsessed with the bill. It’s an attempt and let’s not forget there are lobbies in the United States and there are neighbours in our region who would like to play up this bill.”
Meanwhile, Kofod said that his country would not recognise the Taliban government but added that Denmark would not “turn its back” on the people of Afghanistan. He expressed concerns over Afghanistan becoming a “terror safe haven”, posing threat to the region as well as the world.
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Kofod said that Denmark would work with countries such as Pakistan to find a way forward in Afghanistan. He thanked Pakistan for helping the Danish government in evacuation of its diplomats and other nationals from Afghanistan.
Later a statement issued by the Foreign Office said the Foreign Minister Qureshi noted that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s best interest as well as the region. Qureshi hoped that the new set-up in Afghanistan would make concerted efforts for peace and stability as well as work towards the betterment of all Afghan people.
The foreign minister emphasised the importance of international community remaining engaged with Afghanistan and supporting the Afghan people. There was an urgent need to provide assistance to prevent a humanitarian crisis and to take steps to ensure economic stability, he added.
Qureshi also briefed Kofod about his interaction with his counterparts from the European countries and said that the views on both sides were largely convergent. He apprised his Danish counterpart of his regional outreach on the situation in Afghanistan and to evolve a coordinated approach.
In the context of bilateral relations, Qureshi reaffirmed the resolve to further expand the growing cooperation, particularly in the fields of trade and investment and renewable energy. Qureshi appreciated the ongoing energy cooperation with Denmark.
Both the foreign ministers looked forward to the early conclusion of the Green Partnership Framework Agreement between Denmark and Pakistan, according to the Foreign Office statement. The foreign minister also highlighted the importance of high-level exchanges, parliamentary visits and enhanced people-to-people contacts for expanding the bilateral ties.
Foreign Minister Kofod reiterated profound gratitude for Pakistan’s facilitative role in evacuation of their nationals and others from Afghanistan. The foreign minister said that Pakistan had facilitated the transit of more than 14,000 people from over 30 countries and international organisations.
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The Danish foreign minister also called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the GHQ. During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security, current situation and collaboration in humanitarian measures in Afghanistan were discussed, according to the ISPR.
The army chief said that Pakistan valued its relations with Denmark and “we earnestly look forward to enhance mutually beneficial multi-domain relations based on common interest”. Kofod appreciated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan situation, including successful evacuation operations, efforts for regional stability and pledged to further improve cooperation with Pakistan at all levels.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Friday that the positive messages and constructive measures by the international community would help prevent instability in Afghanistan and mass exodus of refugees, and stressed that an inclusive political structure was important for stability of Afghanistan.
The prime minister, in a meeting with Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod, who called on him here, said that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was vitally important for Pakistan and the region.
He recalled his earlier conversation with Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Fredericksen and said that they had a fruitful exchange of views on the situation in Afghanistan as well as bilateral relations.
The prime minister stressed the need for international community’s constructive engagement to prevent humanitarian crisis and economic collapse in Afghanistan and to help build durable peace and stability in the country.
The prime minister expressed satisfaction at the growing cooperation between the two countries. He added that Pakistan was committed to further diversify bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade and investment and renewable energy besides increasing people-to-people contacts.
During the meeting, there was a detailed exchange of views on climate change and the need for concerted efforts by the international community to mitigate its adverse effects. The Danish foreign minister appreciated the prime minister’s 10 billion tree initiative and a range of measures taken by Pakistan towards climate resilient development.
The prime minister also underscored the significance of mobilising scaled-up and predictable international climate finance to support climate actions in the developing countries.
Kofod conveyed gratitude of the Danish government for Pakistan’s support and facilitation in evacuation of its nationals and others from Afghanistan. He also reaffirmed Denmark’s commitment to further strengthen bilateral ties.