Qureshi, Blinken discuss Afghan issue over phone

By Our Diplomatic Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday stressed that securing peace in Afghanistan “is the shared responsibility of all stakeholders inside Afghanistan as well as key regional and international players”. He made the remark in a telephonic conversation with US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who called him today to discuss bilateral relations and important developments in the region, according to a statement from the Foreign Office. The US state secretary also tweeted about his conversation with Qureshi, saying they had underscored their “desire for a stable and sustainable bilateral relationship”.
“I look forward to continuing cooperation on the Afghan peace process, tackling Covid-19, supporting regional stability, and other key issues,” Blinken wrote. Qureshi during the call said it was imperative for all relevant stakeholders to press all Afghan parties to constructively engage in achieving an “inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive” political settlement, according to the FO.
He gave the assurance that Pakistan will remain a reliable partner for peace in Afghanistan, which is facing a volatile situation with the withdrawal of foreign forces. The foreign minister noted that there was a “fundamental convergence” between Pakistan and the United States on the need for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan. He also highlighted the steps taken by Pakistan in support of the Afghan peace process. According to the FO statement, Qureshi and the US secretary of state stressed the need for the two sides to continue close coordination and cooperation to ensure meaningful progress in the peace process.
On bilateral relations, the foreign minister emphasised Pakistan’s commitment to forging a long-term and sustainable relationship with the US that was anchored in “deep economic cooperation, regional connectivity and peace in the region”, according to the press release. He highlighted Pakistan’s focus on geo-economics and reiterated the importance of enhancing economic, trade and investment ties between Pakistan and the US.
The two sides also exchanged views on regional connectivity and other key issues.
Earlier in the day, National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf had expressed concern over the worsening situation in Afghanistan, terming it “extremely bad and out of Pakistan’s control”. Briefing the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, he warned of an impending risk of an attack by the Tehreek-i-Taliban, who he said could enter Pakistan disguised as refugees.