ISLAMABAD: Pakistani interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said on Monday there were no refugee camps inside Pakistan and the government had helped evacuate 16,000 people from neighboring Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country on August 15.
Pakistan’s national carrier, the PIA, has been involved in the large-scale evacuation of people from Afghanistan as the United States completed its final withdrawal from the war-ravaged nation, ending 20 years of war that culminated in the militant Taliban’s return to power.
Forced into a hasty exit, Washington and its NATO allies carried out a massive but chaotic airlift over the past many weeks, but still left behind tens of thousands of Afghans who helped Western countries and might have qualified for evacuation.
Foreign diplomats, NATO forces, international media staff and employees of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are among those evacuated with Pakistan’s help by air while around 4,000 Afghans had been sent back to their country through the Torkham and Chaman border crossings, Ahmed said.
“I categorically refute there is no refugee camp in Pakistan, nor we have received any refugee from Afghanistan [after Taliban takeover],” he said.
The minister said the Pakistani prime minister had initiated dialogue with the Taliban to ensure an inclusive government in Afghanistan, adding that peace in Afghanistan was linked to peace and stability in Pakistan.
He urged the international community to help avert a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
Speaking about the New Zealand cricket team abandoning its series with Pakistan over security threats last week, he said the government had tried to reassure the visitors about security until the last minute: “The nation is disappointed [over New Zealand team’s decision], but we will pull through it.”