National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf has said that Pakistan will not accept a “forceful takeover” in Afghanistan and instead support a political solution to the war-torn country’s conflict.
“We will not accept a forceful takeover,” he told reporters at a press conference held at the Pakistan embassy in Washington, DC late on Wednesday, wrapping up a week of talks with the US administration.
The NSA stressed that the only solution for peace in Afghanistan was a “political one”.
“We have made it absolutely clear that we are with the international community on where this goes,” he said. “But the world also needs to be clear that the US invests in a political settlement.”
Dr Yusuf said the harsh rhetoric of the Afghan government against Pakistan was making it impossible to maintain good relations between the neighbours.
“We are beginning to see a very conscious, deliberate effort by the Afghan government to scapegoat Pakistan,” he said, adding that Afghanistan wanted to shift the entire blame of its failures onto Islamabad.
He reiterated that although Pakistan wanted to have very good relations with the Afghan government, “unfortunately, the vitriol and rhetoric coming from there is making that impossible”.
He urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to “compromise and reach a peace settlement” as the insurgents make rapid gains amid the US troop withdrawal.
He stressed that the internationally recognised government in Kabul needed to stop looking for a military victory and should include a broader range of Afghans in any future talks.
“There will have to be some compromise given the ground reality. But the violence will have to stop,” he said.
Yusuf said his US counterpart Jake Sullivan and others in President Joe Biden’s administration did not make specific requests of Pakistan, but discussed “how quickly we can get all these actors in one room to have a sincere conversation”.
He dismissed talk of Islamabad exerting leverage over the Taliban.
“Whatever limited leverage we had, we used,” he said, pointing to Pakistan encouraging the Taliban to enter talks with the Afghan government in Doha.
“Now with the troop withdrawal, that leverage has logically gone down further,” he added.
Yusuf further said Pakistan was no longer in a position to accept Afghan refugees as it currently hosts about 3.5 million.
“Peace in Afghanistan is non-negotiable for us,” he said. “We under no circumstances are prepared to see protracted instability that in the past has caused spillover into Pakistan.”
The NSA’s remarks came after the US said it wanted Pakistan to keep its borders with Afghanistan open for Afghan refugees, a demand that could strain already tense relations between the two countries.
“So, in a place like Pakistan, it’ll be important that their borders remain open,” said a senior State Department official while briefing journalists on the new US refugee admission programme for Afghan nationals.
NSA Yusuf had said at a briefing in Washington this week that arrangements should be made to keep displaced Afghans inside their country instead of pushing them into Pakistan.
“Why make them dar-ba-dar (homeless)? Make arrangements for them inside their country. Pakistan does not have the capacity to take more refugees,” he said.