Recently, in an interview with Afghanistan’s Tolo News, the outspoken Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stirred up a hornet’s nest by absolving the Taliban, the Islamic extremist outfit originating in Afghanistan, from the violent offensives it has carried out against the people of Afghanistan and instead accusing India and Afghanistan of “carrying out terrorist activities” in the country.
Pakistan foreign minister gives a clean chit to Taliban
According to the excerpts of the interview posted on Tolo News’ official Twitter handle, when the anchor, Lotfullah Najafizada questions Qureshi about the incontrovertible fact that the Taliban are responsible for a series of bombings and targeted assassinations of government officials, Qureshi tries to give a clean chit to the extremist group by saying: “Who’s responsible for that? Again, if you try and create this impression that the violence is high because of Taliban…again, that would be an exaggeration. Why do I say that? Aren’t there other elements over there who are playing the role of a spoiler.”
When the journalist asks if not Taliban, who else is then responsible for the violence and killings in Afghanistan, the Pakistan PM responds: “Daesh, like forces within Afghanistan… who gain from the war economy, who want to perpetuate their power, who are not seeing beyond their nose and just want to hang on to power.”
Qureshi insinuated that the current Afghan government is responsible for the violence in Afghanistan.
It is important to note here that in recent years, the tension between Afghanistan and Pakistan has increased due to Pakistan’s continued support of the Taliban.
India uses “your [Afghan] soil against us”: Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Tolo News
While speaking about India presence in Afghanistan, the Pakistan minister goes on to rehash the same lie his government has persistently peddled.
Giving an extremely ludicrous argument to back his claim, Qureshi opines that considering India does not share borders with Afghanistan, its presence should not have been as predominant as it is now. India’s presence in Afghanistan is “larger than it ought to be as it does not share borders with Afghanistan.”
Pakistani FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi says the Indian presence in Afghanistan is larger than it ought to be as it does not share borders with Afghanistan. Watch the interview on TOLOnews, TOLO TV and https://t.co/fXhOuWrZv9 at 9pm (Kabul time) on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/Mf6GTGZF84— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) June 17, 2021
Furthermore, asked how many Indian consulates there are in Afghanistan, Qureshi replies: “Well, on paper, perhaps four.”
“No, I’m saying we feel that, at times, you don’t share a border with India. Obviously, you have sovereign relations and you have bilateral relations, and you have every right to have sovereign and bilateral relations with India. You have trade with India, they come and carry out development work there, that’s completely fine with us. But at times we feel that their presence is perhaps larger than it ought to be because they…don’t share a border with you,” argues Qureshi.
He adds that if India uses “your [Afghan] soil against us”, it bothers him at a personal level. To this, when the anchor questions the Pak Foreign Minister to throw light on how India is using Afghan soil for anti-Pakistan activities, he says: “Yes, they are…By carrying out terrorist activities.”
Pakistan foreign ministers says that if Afghanistan and Pakistan want to coexist then the former has to recognise the Durand Line as an international border
Asked about his opinion on Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan, Pakistani FM Qureshi says that if Afghanistan and Pakistan want to “move ahead as good neighbours and coexist, then the Durand Line should be recognized as an international border”.
When asked whether Pakistan has had discussions pertaining to this issue with the Afghan Govt, the Pakistan minister, despite knowing that Afghanistan thinks otherwise, says that there is no room for discussion as it is an established fact that the Durand Line is the International border between the two neighbouring countries.
Pakistani FM Qureshi says that if Afghanistan and Pakistan want to move ahead as good neighbors and coexist, then the Durand Line should be recognized as an international border. Watch the interview on TOLOnews, TOLO TV, & https://t.co/fXhOuWrZv9 at 9pm (Kabul time) on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/BC3KRXxkwS— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) June 17, 2021
The Durand Line controversy
For the uninitiated, the Durand Line carved out in 1893 between British-ruled India and Afghanistan’s Amir Abdur Rahman Khan as an attempt to improve relations and exchange between the two countries, has always been an issue of conflict between the two Islamic countries. Though Pakistan claims that Durand Line is a well established international border, Afghanistan has never accepted it. Afghanistan claims a significant portion of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces in Pakistan based on the fact that though they were claimed by Pakistan at the time of its formation, however, they used to be a part of Afghanistan and the ethnic groups of Balochs and Pashtuns have been partitioned.
Afghanistan had also demanded in 1947 that the Pashtuns should be given the right of self-determination. The demand was ignored by both the British and Pakistan at that time.
One claim that Afghanistan often uses to assert its position over the Durand Line is that the border drawn by the British was valid for 100 years, and its validity has expired. Another claim that Afghanistan makes is that the legitimacy of the border ended with Pakistan’s formation as the agreement was between India and Afghanistan and not with Pakistan.