Pakistan looking at Afghanistan’s Taliban regime to help check terror, says Foreign Minister Bilawal

New York/Islamabad, May 19: Amidst an uptick in terrorist activity in the region, Pakistan is hoping that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan will live up to their international commitment to not allow their soil to be used for terrorism, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said.
Underlining that the developments unfolding in Afghanistan have a direct impact on the lives of the people in Pakistan, Bilawal, on his first major foreign visit after assuming charge last month, said that Islamabad will continue to advocate for engagement with the hardline Islamists in Kabul, particularly in light of the humanitarian crisis developing in the neighbouring country.
On Wednesday, in a meeting with a Pakistani delegation led by former ISI Chief and current Peshawar Corps Commander Lt. Gen Faiz Hameed in Afghanistan, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militant group agreed to extend the ceasefire until May 30 on the demands of the tribal leaders.
“We continue to not only monitor the situation, but work on our side to ensure that we can try to tackle the threat of terrorism and hope that the regime in Afghanistan lives up to their international commitment to not allow their soil to be used for terrorism,” the Pakistan Foreign Minister said in an interview to CNN on Wednesday, when asked about the ceasefire announced between the powerful Pakistan Army and the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
Pakistan has recently witnessed a spate of terrorist activities.
In a recent incident, three children and as many soldiers of the Pakistan Army were killed in a suicide blast in Pakistan’s restive North Waziristan tribal district that also borders Afghanistan.
Last month, Pakistan carried out airstrikes in eastern Afghanistan. Witnesses said the strikes hit a refugee camp and another location, killing at least 40 civilians.
According to the United Nations estimates, there are around 10,000 Tehreek-e-Taliban militants hiding in Afghanistan.
Militant attacks in Pakistan are up nearly 50 per cent since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in August last year, according to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad that tracks militant activities in the country.
When asked what it would take for Pakistan to accept the current administration in Kabul, Bilawal said any decision in this regard ought to be taken in line with discussions with the international community.
“We continue to advocate for engagement, particularly in light of the humanitarian crisis developing in Afghanistan,” the 33-year-old foreign minister said.
He reiterated that the developments in Kabul have a direct impact on the lives of the people of Pakistan.
“We must prioritise, alleviate the humanitarian crisis, ensure there’s no economic collapse and hold the Taliban regime to the international commitments. It was not Pakistan, but the US who had direct communication with the Taliban regime before their takeover of Kabul. Pakistan and the international community believe it will not serve any of our interests if we abandon the people of Afghanistan once again,” he said in the interview. Bilawal maintained Pakistan has consistently engaged with Afghanistan regardless of who was in power.
Bilawal is currently on a maiden visit to the US at the invitation of the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to attend the ministerial meeting on the “Global Food Security Call to Action” which was held at the United Nations.
On Wednesday, Bilawal met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the UN headquarters and talks focussed on bolstering regional security and strengthening bilateral and economic ties.
In his remarks before his meeting with Bilawal, the first face-to-face interaction between the two ministers, Blinken said Washington is “very pleased” to be working with the foreign minister and with a new government in Pakistan.
“The Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State covered the full spectrum of Pakistan-U.S. Relations and discussed global and regional situations,” a statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Office said.
The Foreign Minister underscored the importance of inclusivity, protection of human rights, especially of women and girls, and timely humanitarian relief in Afghanistan, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
The meeting between Bilawal and Blinken took place after Pakistan’s ties with the US had strained considerably under the erstwhile Imran Khan regime, and the current dispensation led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has reiterated calls to reset ties with Washington. (PTI)