Pakistan unable to accept more Afghan refugees; Kabul urges Islamabad to resume commercial flights

Pakistan's national security adviser Moeed Yusuf said that the country is already hosting more than 3 million Afghan refugees who had fled the war and violence.

Published: 16th September 2021 08:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th September 2021 08:26 AM   |  A+A-

Pakistan's National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf gives a news conference, in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo | AP)


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's national security adviser said Wednesday that his country cannot host any more Afghan refugee for several reasons, including financial constraints.

"Pakistan is in no condition right now to accept any more refugees," Moeed Yusuf told a news conference in the capital, Islamabad.

He said Pakistan is already hosting more than 3 million Afghan refugees who had fled the war and violence in their country over the past decades.

Yusuf said Pakistan will try to do whatever is possible to help Afghans, but that international efforts should step up to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

He asked the world community not to repeat the past mistake of abandoning Afghanistan.

Yusuf also warned that the Islamic State group and other militants, including the Pakistani Taliban who have sought refuge across the border, could exploit such a situation.

"You don't need to think too much to know what will happen. There will be a security vacuum. You already know ISIS is present there, Pakistani Taliban are present there, al-Qaida is there," he said, adding that these groups are sworn enemies both of Pakistan and the West.

"If Afghanistan destabilizes the spillover effect comes to Pakistan," he said.

Yusuf also asked the international community to constructively engage with the Taliban for the sake of peace and stability in the region.

Afghanistan's civil aviation ministry has approached Pakistan with a request to let its two airlines resume commercial flight operations between the two countries.

The Ministry of Aviation and Transport of Afghanistan, in a letter to Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), requested it to permit operations of Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air on the basis of a bilateral memorandum of understanding, reported Dawn newspaper, which claimed to have a copy of the letter dated September 13.

The Afghan ministry said its two carriers aimed to commence their scheduled flights and requested the CAA to facilitate the process.

The letter claimed that the Kabul Airport was damaged by American troops before their withdrawal, however, "By technical assistance of our Qatar Brother, the Airport became operational once again".

There are concerns that the Kabul airport is not completely ready to handle flight operations, although planes have landed there recently, including a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane which made a chartered flight to Kabul on Monday, the report said.

Pakistan also plans to resume regular commercial flights with Afghanistan, it said.

Pakistan's national flag-carrier PIA on Monday ran its first commercial flight to Kabul since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August.

It took foreign journalists to Kabul and returned with a team of World Bank and international media organisations.

Meanwhile, Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said at a press briefing a day ago that his country would not take responsibility for the Kabul airport until all issues were addressed with the Taliban.

"We need to make sure that everything is addressed very clearly otherwise, we are not able to take any responsibility for the airport (if) all these things are not addressed," Al-Thani added.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, two weeks before the US' complete troop withdrawal on August 31 after a costly two-decade war.

This forced Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country to the UAE.

The Taliban insurgents stormed across Afghanistan and captured all major cities in a matter of days, as Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the US and its allies melted away.

Thousands of Afghan nationals and foreigners have fled the country to escape the new Taliban regime and to seek asylum in different nations, including the US and many European nations, resulting in total chaos and deaths.

The ISIL-K (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Khorasan Province) carried out a gruesome attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and at a hotel nearby last month.

Two suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds of Afghans flocking to Kabul's airport last month, killing at least 60 Afghans and 13 US troops.


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