FM Qureshi hopes 2020 will be 'the year of peace in Afghanistan'

This photograph shared by Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Jan. 17, 2020, shows the minister speaking during a session at CSIS in Washington on Jan. 16, 2020. (Photo courtesy: Shah Mahmood Qureshi/Twitter)
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Updated 17 January 2020

FM Qureshi hopes 2020 will be 'the year of peace in Afghanistan'

  • It is in no one’s interest to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s, says Qureshi
  • Pakistani FM briefed US Under Secretary of Defense on Pakistan’s efforts to defuse ongoing tensions in the Middle East

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed hope that 2020 could be “the year of peace in Afghanistan” and “no precipitate action” would disrupt it, the Foreign Office quoted him as saying at a Washington-based think tank on Thursday.
Qureshi also said he hoped that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghan territory would be “phased and orderly.”
“It is in no one’s interest to repeat the mistakes of the 1980s,” Qureshi said in a speech at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), referring to the abrupt US pullout from Afghanistan after Soviet withdrawal, according to the Foreign Office’s statement issued on Friday.
“We need to remember that peace in Afghanistan is ultimately a shared responsibility. Pakistan will and is playing its role, but it alone cannot do all that is needed,” he said, warning against “spoilers,” as “sadly, not every country in the broader region wants to see peace in Afghanistan,” he said.
The United States-backed proxy war against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s and its abrupt withdrawal of forces in 1989, have been linked to the rise of militancy in Pakistan and the whole region. In 2009, then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that the US too had a part in creating the problem that plagues Pakistan today.
During his CSIS visit, Qureshi said that “for too long, the Pakistan-US relationship has remained hostage to the Afghan issue. We want this rather unhelpful framework to change.”
He also suggested that both the US and Pakistan need to “sharpen” their “focus and preparations for the post-conflict phase.”
Qureshi is currently in Washington for talks with the US officials.
In a meeting with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the foreign minister said that Pakistan was committed to the political reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
“The Committee members appreciated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process and requested Pakistan’s continued support,” the foreign office said.
Qureshi also briefed the US Under Secretary of Defense John Rood about his recent visits to Saudi Arabia and Iran in Pakistan’s efforts to defuse ongoing tensions in the Middle East, following a US airstrike that killed the top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3.
Foreign relations analyst Rasul Bakhsh Rais told Arab News that US and its allies are trying to make sure that “state institutions, security arrangements and political order they have helped cultivate and build in Afghanistan must continue, while they withdraw their troops.”
“It would require the US to remain engaged in Afghanistan by supporting political stability, intra-Afghan reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction,” Rais said.
Experts believe that US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan needs a basic expression of will for peace from the stakeholders.
Senior Pakistani diplomat Rustam Shah Mohmand said that the recent cease-fire announced by the Taliban was “not because of pressure from Pakistan.”
“This time when the talks resume, they would most likely lead to an agreement,” Mohmand told Arab News.
Foreign Office spokeswoman Farooqui said on Thursday that Pakistan welcomed the resumption of US-Taliban peace talks. “We hope that the talks would be concluded at the earliest leading the way to Intra-Afghan negotiations.”
“Under this umbrella, all efforts and negotiations whether it is cease-fire or any other aspect of the Peace Process is welcomed by Pakistan,” Farooqui said.


Pakistani coronavirus survivor hails Saudi King for medical treatment

Updated 07 April 2020

Pakistani coronavirus survivor hails Saudi King for medical treatment

  • Five expat Pakistanis are treated for the virus in the Kingdom, says Ambassador Raja Ali Ejaz
  • Saudi Arabia announced free treatment for all COVID-19 patients on March 30

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani coronavirus patient, who recently recovered from the infectious respiratory illness in Saudi Arabia, thanked King Salman for ensuring free medical treatment for everyone suffering from the contagion in the Kingdom.
“I consider myself fortunate to be alive. I am thankful to King Salman since his decision made it possible for me to get excellent medical treatment at the King Faisal Hospital in Taif without spending anything,” Muhammad Shoaib told Arab News on Tuesday.
“I went to Riyadh for work 10 days ago and got sick while traveling back to Taif. I was taken to the King Faisal Hospital where I tested positive for COVID-19,” he said through a video statement from Taif, adding that he had fully recovered from the infection due to excellent care he received at the hospital.
Saudi Arabia on March 30, announced free treatment for all COVID-19 patients, irrespective of their nationality and legal status, in both public and private health care facilities in the Kingdom. The virus has killed more than 35 people in the Kingdom while more than 2,600 cases have been registered so far.
“There are five confirmed Pakistani cases of coronavirus in the Kingdom, and they are all getting medical attention at different hospitals. Fortunately, there have been no fatalities in our diaspora community so far,” Pakistan’s Ambassador to the Kingdom Raja Ali Ejaz told Arab News via telephone on Tuesday.
He added that the mission was in contact with various Saudi ministries to get the latest updates from them about the Pakistani community.
The envoy expressed satisfaction on the timely measures taken by the Saudi authorities to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
“I would especially like to thank King Salman for his keen interest in providing free treatment to all expatriates, including Pakistanis, who are affected by this virus,” he said.
Ejaz added that Pakistan’s embassy and consulate were doing their best to remain in touch with the Pakistani community through social media, website and dedicated helplines.
“We are trying to benefit from different electronic means since physical movement is restricted due to the imposition of curfew in all major cities.”
On the issue of stranded Pakistanis, he said that the country’s diplomatic mission was trying to send about 300 Umrah pilgrims to their country, adding that the embassy was also trying to address the issue of about 700 Pakistani workers who were not in the Kingdom when its authorities decided to suspend international flights.
“The embassy is cognizant of the problems faced by Pakistanis employed in private companies. We are in constant contact with the Saudi state institutions and private companies for the resolution of the issue,” Ejaz said.