No refugee camps along Afghan border: Sheikh Rashid

September 6, 2021

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Minister of Interior, has categorically denied the presence of Afghan refugee camps in border regions, and has urged the international community to be wary of India’s baseless accusations. Speaking to journalists at the Torkham border on Sunday, during his first visit to the region since the Afghan Taliban took over Kabul, he stated unequivocally that he was at the border to inform the world community that no such camp existed in any border area and that the Indian government was spreading false and baseless propaganda in that regard.

“I want to inform the Indian media, in particular, and the international media in general, that 4,000 Afghans have entered Pakistan with valid visa, and a much larger number of Afghans have restored to their country following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul,” the minister said. He stated that the international community should praise Pakistan for assisting in the humanitarian evacuation of over 10,000 people from Kabul, whereas India did not evacuate a single person.

“We should provide a transport facility for anyone wishing to enter Pakistan from Afghanistan for 21 or 30 days. “After that, they’d be free to go wherever they wanted,” he explained. The minister also rebuked the Indian government for being overly concerned about Pakistan’s top intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief’s visit to Kabul, questioning why the Indian government was crying wolf about the visit when senior officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries had also visited Kabul and met Taliban after they came to power.

He stated that Pakistan would not interfere in Afghanistan’s domestic matters and would not allow anyone to use Pakistani territory against it. He raised hopes that the Afghan Taliban would respond in the same manner, while abiding to Pakistan’s demand that Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan refrain from launching terrorist attacks against Pakistan from Afghan soil. In response to a question about whether Pakistan would recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the minister stated that any such decision would be made by the prime minister in consultation with the international community.

He stated that in the present situation, he foresees the establishment of a new regional bloc that would organize its own policies rather than taking dictation from countries thousands of miles away. “I want to tell the Pakhtuns, in particular, that this region is changing and will develop,” he said. He went on to say that peace, stability, and development in Afghanistan would support Pakistan as well. Paying tribute to the security forces for their monitoring of the Afghan border, he stated that additional personnel would be deputed soon at both Nadra and immigration to expedite immigration.

The minister expressed confidence that bilateral trade with Afghanistan would increase following the formation of an inclusive government in Kabul. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had previously been given a detailed brief discussion on the political situation and the citizenship process at the border. During his visit, the border crossing stayed closed, and tight security steps were implemented.

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