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Pakistan, Iraq foreign ministers express concern over deteriorating situation in Afghanistan

Qureshi reiterated Pakistan's support for territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq, and acknowledged the successes of Iraq and its people in the fight against terrorism.

Published: 11th August 2021 08:04 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th August 2021 08:04 PM   |  A+A-

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in Kunduz city, northern Afghanistan. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday met his Iraqi counterpart Dr. Fuad Hussein and the two leaders expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan besides having in-depth discussion on bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest.

Hussein, who arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday, is on a two-day visit to Pakistan at the invitation of Qureshi.

"We are worried about the situation in Afghanistan because we see signals of using violence to solve the problem," the Iraqi leader said at a press conference.

Hussein hoped that the ongoing meetings to address the issue would help to find the solution through negotiations among various political parties in Afghanistan.

"In the end, Afghanistan needs peace and peace in Afghanistan will affect the neighbouring countries, but violence in Afghanistan affects all of us," Hussein said, adding that Afghanistan is not 'far away from Iraq'.

Hussein expressed concern that if it is not resolved, the Afghan conflict will affect the whole region, in fact, the entire world.

Taliban's surge in Afghanistan has intensified as US and NATO troops wrap up their withdrawal from the war-torn country.

With Taliban attacks increasing, Afghan security forces and government troops have retaliated with airstrikes aided by the United States.

Qureshi said that Pakistan was 'consistently advocating' a reduction of violence in Afghanistan, adding that even currently a Pakistani delegation was in Doha to attend a meeting with key stakeholders to hasten the peace process.

"We are sincere in the peace process and we will not be apologetic because we have done whatever we could and will continue to do what we can for peace, stability and regional connectivity," he said.

Afghanistan and the US have criticised Pakistan in the past for allowing Taliban fighters to cross into Pakistan where they are provided safe havens and also receive medical treatment.

Responding to a question about Afghan leaders' criticism of Pakistan, Qureshi said that Pakistan analysed the social media trend and found that much of the "smear campaign" was artificial and driven by 'bots'.

"If you look at some of the social media trends, we have gone into it in greater detail and come to the conclusion that the bulk of it is orchestrated. It is not a natural trend -it is a bot-controlled trend- and it is part of a smear campaign to divert attention from internal challenges that Afghanistan is going through," he said.

He reiterated that Pakistan has no favourites in Afghanistan.

"It is up to the people of Afghanistan. They have to sit and work on what kind of future they want for their country," he said, adding that "Pakistan will only facilitate."

Earlier, the two foreign ministers had in-depth delegation-level talks, during which they exchanged views on bilateral relations as well as regional and global issues of common interest, according to Pakistan's Foreign Office.

Qureshi reiterated Pakistan's support for territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq, and acknowledged the successes of Iraq and its people in the fight against terrorism.

He stressed the importance of expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation through enhanced connectivity and closer business-to-business and people-to-people linkages.

The FO said that Qureshi apprised the Iraqi foreign minister about the situation in Kashmir and underlined Pakistan's position on the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in line with the UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

India has told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir "was, is and shall forever" remain an integral part of the country.



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