Ambassador: "The country that has suffered the most due to prolonged conflict in Afghanistan is Pakistan"-INTERVIEW

Ambassador Bilal Hayee

© APA | Ambassador Bilal Hayee

# 27 August 2021 15:51 (UTC +04:00)

Interview of Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Azerbaijan Bilal Hayee with APA

- Mr. Ambassador, a terrible terror act was committed in Kabul Airport yesterday. First of all, we want you to comment on the incident...

- Pakistan severely condemns the treacherous terror attack in Kabul Airport, which resulted in the death of numerous people including children. In general, Pakistan is always against all forms and manifestations of terrorism and condemns them. We extend condolences to families of the killed people, share their sorrow, pray for quick recovery of the wounded.

- In the mid-1990s, only three countries formally recognized Taliban's control over Afghanistan – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. But now what we see is that Pakistan is in no rush to recognize Kabul’s new rulers. For everyone, it is interesting that this time how Islamabad will react to the change in the neighboring country. How can regional countries including Pakistan contribute to the lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan?

- We are mindful that people of Afghanistan have suffered immensely due to four decades of conflict. It is also a fact that after Afghanistan, the country that has suffered the most due to prolonged conflict is Pakistan. Pakistan has suffered over 80,000 casualties and more than $150 billion in economic losses. Therefore, Pakistan has high stakes in the stability of Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s objectives in Afghanistan are aligned with the international community. We want to see an inclusive government where all shades of Afghans have a role to play for peace and development of their country.

We are working with the international community including the regional countries to ensure that the long conflict in Afghanistan ends through a political settlement among the Afghans.

Foreign Minister of Pakistan just concluded a trip to several regional countries including Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran to consult with their leaders regarding Afghanistan.

- As we know thousands of people are trying to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country. One of the countries is Pakistan which faces the refugee flow. How does the Pakistani government plan to deal with this situation?

- Being the immediate neighbor with a long border, Pakistan has always been affected by spillover of instability in Afghanistan. We are already hosting over 4 million Afghan refugees and there is possibility of more refugees coming to Pakistan along with other countries. The ideal solution is to ensure that international community works with the Afghans inside Afghanistan to create conditions which would reduce the mass exodus of refugees. Pakistan would do all it can to help those coming to our borders for shelter.

- There is a view among political experts that nationalist establishment in Afghanistan at the next door is a kind of challenge for Pakistan. According to my knowledge, the Afghan Taliban is against the Durand Line, thus a new conflict can appear between Afghanistan and Pakistan?

- In my view, at this stage, it is not very relevant to talk about the juridical and historical connotations of Durand Line which is a settled issue. Pakistan has always emphasized that movement between Pakistan and Afghanistan whether of people or goods should be regulated just like other international border crossings.

- There's no guarantee that Afghanistan wouldn't once again become a safe haven for terrorists. For preventing it, as a regional country how can Pakistan cooperate with the international community?

- During the last several years, Pakistan’s greatest concern has been the ungoverned spaces from where many terrorist organizations used to orchestrate terrorist attacks inside Pakistan. Pakistan has been on record in highlighting these concerns to the international community including the UN. Now with the departure of foreign forces, it should be the responsibility of those in control of Afghanistan to ensure that Afghan soil is not used against any other country.

We have noted some statements from the Taliban in this regard. Let us all hope that such statements are implemented. The international community also has a role to play in helping those in control in Afghanistan to enable them fulfill those promises.

Some of the important steps could be to provide necessary financial assistance to wean away the Afghans from the war economy to a legal economy. The gains in human development index in the last 20 years should not be allowed to reverse.

- There is a kind of assumption that the ascendance of radical religious groups in Afghanistan will embolden radicals in the neighboring country -Pakistan. If this is the case, how will Pakistan deal with this and prevent it?

- This is an apprehension that is also being expressed in many circles in Pakistan. Only time will tell how things unfold. Pakistan has suffered from terrorist attacks by TTP and Daesh from the Afghan side in the last several years. These attacks were being sponsored by Pakistan’s enemies. Over the years, Pakistan has taken several steps to secure our border with Afghanistan including fencing and better monitoring of movement.