KARACHI: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi refrained from calling Osama bin Laden a terrorist in an interview with Afghan media
When the interviewer quoted Prime Minister Imran Khan as calling Osama bin Laden a `martyr`, Mr Qureshi said: `Well, again. Out of context. He [the PM] was quoted out of context. And, a particular section of the media pair it up. Asked if he would disagree, the foreign minister paused for a while and then said: `I will let it pass.
Asked if he was against a Taliban military takeover, he said: `We have never said, we have never supported or advocated a takeover of Kabul by force…. See, what I have said is it is for you, the people of Afghanistan, to decide what you want.
Mr Quershi made it clear that Pakistan wanted to see an independent, sovereign, prosperous, democratic Afghanistan.
Responding to a question if Afghanistan was heading to civil war again, the foreign minister said: `I hope not. I hope not. Please, that`s why Pm saying, please sit together and carve out a way forward, you know, which is coexistence, reconciliation. Accept each other. You have to accept each other. You know, the people and government in Afghanistan and the Taliban that have been fighting for decades now, they`re both Afghans. You have to reconcile, and you have to find a way forward. We`re concerned because God forbid, if there is civil war…. It depends on you, depends on the Afghan leadership, depends on the ability of the Afghan leadership to carve a way forward. If you fail, if the Afghan leadership fail, then yes, we are heading for a civil war. And God forbid, if there is one, then you suffer and we suffer as well.
The minister regretted that when things were not moving in the right direction, one looked for the scapegoats. `And the favorite scapegoat you have is Pakistan. When there`s failure within [Afghanistan], you blame Pakistan for that. 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. We`re saying we want to be helpful.
While rejecting the idea of giving military bases to or sharing intelligence with the US for operations inside Afghanistan from Pakistani soil, the minister said Pakistan was willing to help in pushing the peace process forward.
`We`re willing to help in Afghanistan`s reconstruction, rehabilitation. We`re willing to partner with Afghanistan, with the US, on countering terrorism. Yes, we will be partners for peace.