‘Consequences of abandonment’ could lead to civil war in Afghanistan: Pakistan Foreign Minister

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Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday said the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan was not “responsible or orderly”, warning that the “consequences of abandonment” could lead to a civil war in the war-ravaged country if the West failed to engage with the Taliban.

Qureshi warned of potential “anarchy” and a resurgent threat of terrorism and said there was a failure to listen to Pakistan’s concerns about ending the war in Afghanistan and, as a result, the withdrawal was not “responsible or orderly”, Geo News reported.

The last C-17 cargo aircraft carrying US forces took off from the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul in the early hours of Tuesday, ending America’s military campaign in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, ousted from power by the US shortly after the 9/11 attacks, now control nearly all of the country.

“Things could become chaotic, there could be anarchy, and that will give space to the organisations we all dread: the international terrorist organisation that we do not want their footprint to grow in Afghanistan,” he said.

The foreign minister said that the “consequences of abandonment” are dangerous and could “lead to a civil war.” Qureshi said that the West should now test the new Taliban government to ensure it keeps its promises.

He said that if the West did not maintain dialogue with the Taliban, Afghanistan could fall victim to another civil war and a new wave of terrorism could spread in the region.

“They should have learned from their mistakes,” he said. “And I think the attitude and the approach they are taking is reflective of a different approach,” the minister said.

“What I’m saying is test them (Taliban) before trusting them. They’re (making) big statements but let us see if they live up to them and if they do, then build on it because the other option is far worse,” he said.

Qureshi said the initial statements made by the Taliban leadership were positive and encouraging. He hoped that the Taliban would work to establish an inclusive government in the multi-ethnic state.

“One option is engagement as opposed to isolation, you know we’ve withdrawn, let’s wash our hands, we’ve done our bit, we leave. That is a dangerous option. That is an option of abandonment of Afghan people,” he said. He said that the same mistake was committed in the 1990s and urged the international community not to repeat the same mistake again.

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