Volatile Afghan situation is out of Islamabad’s control: Pakistan’s NSA

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf has expressed concern over the worsening situation in Afghanistan, terming it “extremely bad and out of Pakistan’s control”.

Briefing the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on Friday, he warned of an impending risk of an attack by Tehreek-i-Taliban, who, he said, could enter Pakistan from Afghanistan disguised as refugees.

The national security adviser stressed that the UN Refugee Agency needed to set up camps for Afghan refugees.

According to Pakistan’s Dawn News, Yusuf however, denied the presence of the Taliban in Pakistan and said the reports were “Indian propaganda”.

Yusuf said Pakistan was very concerned about the changing situation following the US troop withdrawal and that his country would be adversely affected by the growing violence.

“The region’s peace is conditional on peace in Afghanistan,” he said.

Yusuf further said that the Afghan government needed to work on improving relations with Pakistan if it wanted peace in the country, Dawn News reported.

“[Also], I don’t see the US offering a financial package to Afghanistan and in that case, only Pakistan can provide a trade route to the landlocked country,” he said.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also briefed the committee, saying that Pakistan intended to suggest power sharing in Afghanistan to avoid civil war.

He added that in case of a civil war in Afghanistan, Pakistan would not be able to handle the influx of refugees.

The foreign minister said Taliban objected to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s participation in negotiations, adding that they were “intelligent and had grown wise” over time, Dawn News reported. He added that Taliban had changed after Doha talks.

He warned that in case the situation in “Afghanistan goes back to what it was in the 1990s”, Pakistan would have to deal with a refugee influx.

In this regard, he said, Pakistan would be monitoring illegal border crossings and was also fencing its borders.

“We have to manage things in a better manner to control terrorism,” the minister remarked.

Qureshi added that he, the prime minister and security officials had had meetings with the Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazaras so as to make it clear to them that “there is no favourite in Afghanistan”.

“We want to play the role of a good neighbour and are not thinking about strategic depth [in Afghanistan],” he said. “Our policy on Afghanistan is clear. We want peace and stability in the country and not repeat our mistakes.”