NO ANTI-PAKISTAN ELEMENTS IN AFGHANISTAN: FM MUTTAQI

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ISLAMABAD, NOV 12: Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Friday denied the presence of anti-Pakistan elements in his country, assuring that the Taliban-led government was making all-out efforts to ensure that Afghan soil was not used against any country.

Muttaqi, who is leading a 20-member delegation on a three-day visit to Pakistan, expressed the views while addressing a seminar at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.

The Afghan official also confirmed that the interim government had facilitated talks between the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Pakistan government.

However, he refrained from elaborating on the role of Afghanistan’s acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, who used to head the Haqqani network — the most violent faction of the Taliban — in the negotiations.

Earlier this week, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had announced that a complete ceasefire had been reached between the government and the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). At the same time, Chaudhry had said that the interim Afghan government had facilitated the negotiations — a claim reiterated by the TTP itself.

Addressing the seminar on Sunday, Muttaqi expressed the hope that talks between the two sides would be extended and welcomed the ceasefire reached between the Pakistan government and TTP.

“We hope that the temporary ceasefire agreed between the Pakistan government and TTP will lead to permanent peace,” he added.

Taliban government’s recognition

To a question about the rest of the world recognising the Taliban government and allowing women to work — one of the conditions that the international community has been pressing for recognising the Taliban government — Muttaqi acknowledged that initially, the Taliban government had announced conditions for women to be able to work.

“However, those were the initial days and we have progressed,” he said, claiming that all female employees in the health sector had returned to work in Afghanistan and around 75 per cent were back to work in the education sector.

As for international recognition, he said: “What we are experiencing is that we are being treated as the official government […] and we are being basically being recognised as the de-facto Afghan government.”

“A formal announcement [of the Taliban government’s recognition] may come at a later stage,” he added.

The foreign minister maintained that the Taliban-led government met the international standards for a government to be recognised.

“Can anyone say that we have not fulfilled these requisites?” he asked rhetorically.

He remarked that there were different forms of government in different countries, and “we do not know which form to adopt for being recognised.”

To another question, he maintained that the present Taliban setup was inclusive and consisted of members from multiple ethnicities.