‘India has no business in Afghanistan’

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Fawad Chaudhry lashed out at India for using Afghan soil during previous government, to sponsor terrorism in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet on Tuesday reiterated its stance that India was making constant efforts to sabotage Afghanistan peace process and said it should not meddle in affairs of the land-locked country.

“India must stay away from the whole process going on in Afghanistan as it is neither its neighbor, nor has any role in Afghanistan peace process,” Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said while briefing the media about Federal Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He lashed out at India for using Afghan soil during previous government, led by Ashraf Ghani, to sponsor terrorism in Pakistan and said now its media had been on the forefront to sabotage the Afghan peace process through baseless propaganda campaign.

Fawad said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi apprised the Cabinet of the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

He said the Cabinet was informed that Pakistan was carrying out serious efforts for the evacuation of foreign nationals from Kabul.” We are facilitating the evacuation of thousands of people of different nationalities from Afghanistan’s capital Kabul”, he added.

He said the Pakistan International Airlines had so far facilitated evacuation of over 1,500 people from Kabul. Pakistan was also taking steps to open its borders for evacuating of foreign nationals from Afghanistan, he added.

He said the government had been in contact with the opposition on EVMs and granting voting right to overseas Pakistanis.

Terming PML-N as an obstacle in carrying out electoral reforms, he said the party never came to the power without rigging.

He alleged that opposition parties were conspiring to deprive over 9 million Pakistani expatriates from the right of vote, adding steps being taken by the government for transparent elections, were in line with the judicial commission recommendations formed after the PTI’s demand for opening of four constituencies after 2013 elections.

He said that Dr. Muhammad Ashfaq has been appointed as the new chairman of FBR.    He said that cabinet gave approval to prices of 37 medicines now being produced in Pakistan. He said that prices of 13 medicines were marginally increased to discourage their back marketing.

He pointed out that the authorities in Afghanistan had announced that no one would be allowed to use its territory against Pakistan. It was a positive development, he said, expressing hope that the authorities in Afghanistan would ensure its implementation.

Fawad hoped that Afghanistan would cooperate with Pakistan for extradition of top terrorists including members of Baloch Liberation Army and TTP, hiding in the landlocked country.

To a question regarding the proposed Pakistan Media Development Authority, he said the Federal Cabinet was briefed about the proposed bill wherein Prime Minister Imran Khan directed for carrying out thorough consultation in this regard.

He said the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting would involve more stakeholders in the consultation process.

The minister ruled out any change in the proposed bill with regard to the contractual enforcement of media workers and fake news and said other than that all the amendments from journalist community, would be welcome.

About Pakistan’s relations with the United States, he said US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had spoken to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi three times, while Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa was in contact with American Central Command’s Chief.

Close consultation process between the Pakistan Army leadership and Pentagon and Defence Department was underway, he added.

At the moment, there were two tracks underway with regard to Afghan peace process.

He said Pakistan was regional power and its involvement in Afghanistan peace process was crucial.