Qureshi conveys disappointment to Khalilzad


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday conveyed its “disappointment” to the top US envoy over the State Department’s recent annual report on terrorism in which Washington with the total disregard to the country’s sacrifices in war on terror, once again alleged Islamabad for offering “safe havens” to regional terror groups.

The reservations over the State Department’s Country Report on Terrorism 2019 was conveyed by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to the visiting US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad who called on him here Wednesday.

”Foreign Minister Qureshi conveyed Pakistan’s disappointment that the recently released U.S. State Department’s Country Report on Terrorism 2019 was not factual and it failed to recognize Pakistan’s serious efforts and achievements in the fight against the scourge of terrorism,” said a statement of the Foreign Office after the meeting.

It stated that it was underlined that the spirit and trajectory of Pakistan-US relations warranted a positive approach – with better understanding and recognition of Pakistan’s concrete contribution to counter-terrorism.

In its report, the State Department, with the total disregard to Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism, once again accused Pakistan for offering terrorists’ “safe haven for certain regionally focused terrorist groups, including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated Haqqani Network, as well as groups targeting India such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its affiliated organization Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), to operate from its territory”.

During the meeting, the Foreign Office said that Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution to the US-Taliban direct talks culminating in the peace agreement of 29 February 2020 and stressed that the Afghan leaders should seize this historic opportunity and work together to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement.

Reiterating that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is important for peace and stability in the region and beyond, Qureshi welcomed the latest developments including announcements on formation of a negotiating team and establishment of the High Council of National Reconciliation.

He expressed the hope that release of prisoners would be completed soon to pave the way for the earliest commencement of Intra-Afghan negotiations. Qureshi urged that all sides should make earnest efforts for reduction in violence. He also emphasized that it was important to not let the spoilers undermine or derail the process of Intra-Afghan negotiations.

Noting the 40 years of hospitality extended by Pakistan to the Afghan refugees, the Foreign Minister underlined the role of the international community for a time-bound and well-resourced roadmap for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honor.

Foreign Minister Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to continue working with regional and international partners to support efforts for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. He added that Pakistan remained ready to engage in endeavours to facilitate closer Pakistan-Afghanistan economic partnership and regional connectivity projects.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad expressed condolences on the loss of lives in the terrorists’ attack on Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi and extended U.S. support. The Foreign Minister praised the bravery of the security personnel and thanked Ambassador Khalilzad for support against this terrorist attack, which was externally supported. Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq, and other senior officials were also present in the meeting. Ambassador Khalilzad’s visit to Pakistan is part of his regular engagement for consultations and exchange of views on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.