ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday said that the United States should systematically withdraw from Afghanistan to prevent what had happened in the 1990s in the country.
In an interview with Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency, on sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in the Turkish city of Antalya, he said that if [US] withdrawal is not systematic, we are concerned that Afghanistan may get sucked into a situation that we experienced in the 1990s, when there was anarchy, civil war, instability.
The foreign minister said that the withdrawal should be carried out in a "responsible way."
“Afghans have paid the biggest price. The second to the Afghans are Pakistanis. We lost 83,000 lives on account of terrorism. Our economy has suffered close to over $128 billion,” he said.
Noting that Pakistan hosts nearly 3 million Afghan refugees for four decades, he said they do not want another influx of refugees. “We think it’s time that they go back home with honor and dignity. And that can only happen if there’s peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said.
Underlining that Pakistan facilitated the peace process between the Taliban and the US at the Doha Peace Agreement, he said: “As far as peace of Afghanistan is concerned, my point is, and my contention is that this is a shared responsibility. Pakistan is already in its role, but it’s basically the conciliation within Afghanistan.”
Stressing that the ownership and the responsibility lie on the Afghan leadership, he said they have to sit together and decide on their future. Pakistan can only facilitate the process, he said, adding that they cannot tell Afghanistan what to do as Afghanistan is a sovereign and independent country.
Pointing out that the Istanbul Conference, where the Afghanistan peace process would be discussed, has been canceled, he said: “I would like to know how Turkey is foreseeing the future. Turkey is an important regional power. We hold meetings regularly.”
Regarding bilateral relations with Turkey, Qureshi said the countries have "an excellent relationship based on trust and friendship, leading to an economic partnership in the future."
"We cooperate for a number of platforms. Turkey and Pakistan are very closely associated and work in harmony in the international foras, particularly at the UN, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and other forums. We have a good defense cooperation understanding and it is deepening with the passage of time," he said.
We need to increase our economic footprint, promote bilateral trade and also encourage investments, he noted.
As for the ongoing conflict in Palestine, Qureshi thanked Turkey and the OIC for their leadership in the face of Israel s atrocities in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"There was a cease-fire announced, but that was the first step. What is required is initiating once again the peace process that has stalled for a long time," he said, adding that durable peace in the Middle East can be achieved by the two-state formula.
Qureshi also referred to India s removal of the articles in the constitution that ensure the protection of the demographic structure and special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Stressing that India violated the UN Security Council resolutions, international law and the 4th Geneva Convention with this decision, he said Pakistan considered the act "unilateral and illegal." Pakistan would go along with the wishes of the Kashmiri community, he said.
Highlighting that the removed article 35A is related to the protection of the demographic structure in the region, he said: "We feel there is a design for demographic restructuring to convert this Muslim state, the only Muslim state in India, into a minority. India is under certain international obligations and India s violating those obligations."