Pak calls for 'inclusive' political settlement in Afghanistan as Blinken talks to Qureshi

Blinken’s talks with Qureshi was part of the several outreaches made by him to many of his counterparts across the world, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters

Pakistan has emphasised the importance of an "inclusive" political settlement in Afghanistan as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and discussed the chaotic and rapidly changing situation in the war-ravaged country after the Taliban recaptured the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Blinken’s talks with Qureshi was part of the several outreaches made by him to many of his counterparts across the world, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday.

"Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Qureshi discussed Afghanistan and the developing situation there," Price said without giving any other details of the phone call.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office in a statement in Islamabad said Qureshi shared Pakistan’s perspective with Blinken noting the significant change in the situation within a short span and the avoidance of violence.

The two leaders discussed the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan, according to the Foreign Office.

“He (Qureshi) stressed the importance of inclusive political settlement as the best way forward,” it said.

Qureshi underlined that Pakistan would remain closely engaged with the US and other international partners in promoting efforts in support of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

He stressed that continued US economic engagement with Afghanistan was of crucial importance as well.

Qureshi also apprised Blinken of Pakistan’s efforts to facilitate the evacuation of personnel and staff of diplomatic missions, international organisations, media and others.

Taliban insurgents swept Kabul on Sunday after the US-backed Afghan government collapsed and President Ghani fled the country, bringing an unprecedented end to a two-decade campaign in which the US and its allies had tried to transform the war-ravaged nation.

On Pakistan-US bilateral relations, Foreign Minister Qureshi underlined Pakistan’s commitment to forging a broad-based, long-term and sustainable relationship with the US that was anchored in peace, deeper economic cooperation, and regional connectivity.

Qureshi and Blinken agreed to remain in close contact to promote the shared objectives, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said.

Pakistan’s high-level security huddle chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday endorsed US President Joe Biden’s decision to pull American troops out of Afghanistan, saying the presence of foreign troops for a longer period would not have produced a different result in the war-ravaged neighbouring country.

The National Security Council reiterated Pakistan’s stance that the conflict in Afghanistan never had a military solution, saying that the ideal time to end the conflict through negotiations might have been when the US and NATO troops were at maximum military strength in Afghanistan.

The participants reiterated that Pakistan was committed to an inclusive political settlement as the way forward, representing all Afghan ethnic groups.

It was reaffirmed that Pakistan would continue to work with the international community and all Afghan stakeholders to facilitate an inclusive political settlement in the country. It was also stressed that the principle of non-interference in Afghanistan must be adhered to.

The NSC noted positively that major violence had been averted thus far and called on all parties in Afghanistan to respect the rule of law, protect fundamental human rights of all Afghans, and ensure that Afghan soil is not used by any terrorist organisation or group against any country.

Meanwhile, US Senator Lindsay Graham has urged President Biden to ask Pakistan and China not to recognise the government of Taliban in Afghanistan.

"The bottom line is that we can contain the threat the Taliban face if we stand — present to us, if we tell the world, don’t legitimise this regime,” Graham told Fox News.

"I want President Biden to tell Pakistan and China that, if you recognise the Taliban, you’re recognising a terrorist organization with blood on their hands regarding Americans, and we will hold you accountable,” the Republican Senator said.

"This is a time for presidential leadership. But the problem with President Biden is, he doesn’t understand the nature of the war. He’s like a deer in the headlights and he is unable to adjust. The worst thing at a time of crisis is to have a commander in chief who can’t change their mind,” Graham said.

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