NEW DELHI: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi courted controversy after he hesitated to call al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden a terrorist. In an interview with a local Afghanistan channel, Qureshi was asked if he disagreed that bin Laden was a martyr to which the Pakistan foreign minister replied: “I will let that pass.”
The interviewer had earlier reminded Qureshi of how Pakistan PM Imran Khan had called bin Laden a martyr in the National Assembly. The Pakistan foreign minister tried to defend Khan’s statement saying: “He was quoted out of context. And, a particular section of the media pairs it up.” Qureshi’s comments assume significance as they come close to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary from June 21-25 where the terror finance watchdog will decide on Pakistan’s continuance in its Grey List for not acting on the issue of terror financing. Al Qaeda founder was killed by American forces in a raid in Pakistan’s Abbottabad, less than a mile away from the country’s Military Academy.
Qureshi in the interview also defended the Taliban saying the organisation is ready for peace and they have suffered as well. “If you try and create this impression that the violence is high because of Taliban...that would be an exaggeration.” Pakistan has been in talks with the Taliban as part of the peace process, with its leadership being hosted by the country. Qureshi said Islamabad does not support any terrorist group when asked if it supported any Pakistan-based terror groups like the JeM and LeT. ens