In reaction to remarks by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Sunday said that Islamabad has effective tools to “encourage Taliban leaders to start meaningful peace negotiations.”
In an interview with TOLOnews aired on Saturday, Qureshi said Taliban leadership “lives in Afghanistan” and that the leaders of the group are visiting Pakistan “for facilitating the peace process.”
But the Afghan Foreign Ministry said that such remarks that affect bilateral ties and progress in the peace process should be avoided.
The ministry said there is a need for Pakistan’s sincere cooperation and the implementation of its commitments to Afghanistan to achieve peace in the country.
Qureshi in his interview said Pakistan is unfairly blamed for problems in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan is not responsible for the failure within. Pakistan is not responsible for the squabbling that is going on in Afghanistan. Pakistan is not responsible if the Afghan leadership cannot sit and work out a peace deal. We’re not responsible for that. It’s yours,” he said.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar at an event titled “Terrorism Threat Transforming” held by the Antalya Democracy Forum in Turkey on Sunday said Afghanistan can make peace with the Taliban but they should stop the “insurgency.”
“We can make peace with the Taliban because they are Afghans, but they have to stop terrorism, they have to stop killing people and they have to stop cooperating with international terrorists. However, we cannot make peace with al Qaeda, Daesh and other terrorist groups who are not Afghans. We have no political reason to work with them. Our only goal is for them to leave our country,” said Atmar.
Qureshi’s remarks on Pakistan’s ties with the Taliban sparked reactions in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“Qureshi was defending the Taliban in a way as if he was the Taliban’s foreign minister, not Pakistan’s,” said Pakistani lawmaker Mohsin Dawar who is also a member of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, referring to Qureshi’s interview with TOLOnews.
On Twitter, Dawar said: “He (Qureshi) appears to have been tasked to do this by those who control his government and the Taliban. Those who support the Taliban cannot claim to be working for peace.”
“It is a shameful remark in indeed, and it is like seeing the sun but saying it does not exist. It is clear like the sun that the Taliban’s centers are in Pakistan, and they are their strongest supporter,” said Mursal Nabizada, an MP from Kabul.
Qureshi said in the interview that Afghanistan should accept the Durand Line as an international border as a "good neighbor," but Afghan leaders took issue with his comment.
“There should be patience in regard to important national issues like borders--the problems we have with our neighbors, not only with Pakistan but other neighbors,” Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said.
Qureshi warned that Afghanistan will move towards a civil war if the situation is not managed by the Afghan leadership.