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

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad on August 24, 2020. - Pakistan has invited key members of the Taliban's negotiating team to Islamabad, where senior officials will this week press them on the importance of starting peace talks, Qureshi said on August 24. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP)

Washington/Islamabad: 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 backed 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.

Imran Khan seemed to endorse the heavily armed Taliban taking over Kabul by saying that Afghanistan has broken the "shackles of slavery."

Khan made these remarks while addressing a ceremony to launch the first phase of the Single National Curriculum (SNC) from Grade 1 to 5, which was part of the manifesto of his ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

He spoke on how the parallel education system led to the existence of "English medium" schools, resulting in the adoption of "someone else's culture" in Pakistan.

"When you adopt someone's culture you believe it to be superior and you end up becoming a slave to it," he said, adding that "it creates a system of mental salves that is worse than the actual slavery."

In the same breath, he indirectly likened the ongoing upheaval in Afghanistan with the people of the country "breaking the shackles of slavery".

Pakistan is accused of facilitating the Taliban rebellion which ultimately resulted in the capturing of the country after being ousted about 20 years ago.

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