Pakistan has ‘limited influence’ but not control over Taliban: Fawad

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that stability in Afghanistan can only be achieved through an inclusive government comprising all ethnic groups and rejected an impression that Pakistan controls the Afghan Taliban.

“It’s not the control that we exercise on the Taliban but we have a certain degree of influence,” the federal minister said in an interview with BBC that aired on Monday.

Fawad said due to the limited influence Pakistan was able to bring the Afghan Taliban to the table with the US for peace talks in February 2020.

“…We don’t control them [Taliban] and our advice to them is that please hold your horses and have an inclusive government if you want stability,” he said while responding to a question.

The information minister said there is a need to work closely with regional powers and international players for an inclusive government in the war-torn country.

“We firmly believe that stability in Afghanistan can come only by including all the ethnic groups on board as Afghanistan is a hugely ethnically divided country,” he remarked.

Also read: Pakistan working on interim setup acceptable to all in Afghanistan: Qureshi

In a meeting with ousted president Ashraf Ghani, Fawad said Prime Minister Imran Khan had discussed the idea of forming an inclusive government in the war-torn country.

“Our emphasis was on the inclusive government. Unfortunately, if the [Afghan] elections would have been delayed as PM Imran Khan suggested earlier and an inclusive government would have been placed, things might have been different today,” he said while referring to the Taliban takeover of Kabul.

Fawad said Pakistan had paid the “heaviest price” of the war in Afghanistan. "We have lost 80,000 people and billions of dollars in the economy because of the Afghan war and the reason why Pakistan is conveniently blamed by others’ fault is that the powers who should have heeded to Pakistan’s advice earlier but Pakistan advice was overlooked and we have paid the price of this conflict.”

As far as the future of Afghanistan is concerned, Fawad said, Pakistan is working with the regional and international players for an inclusive government in the neighbouring country.

He said Pakistan is capable of taking on the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) but “we had a problem with the previous Afghan government as at that time India was using Afghan soil for funding the TTP”.

The information minister also appreciated the Afghan Taliban’s statement that they would not allow their soil to be used against any country.

“They have shown the world that Afghanistan will not become the haven of international terrorist organisations," he said, adding, "If instability continues in Afghanistan then hundred will migrate to Pakistan that’s one of the reasons that we are trying our best to avert any instability in Afghanistan.”

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)