Muttaqi sanguine about Pakistan-TTP talks – The Express Tribune

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Afghan FM says 75% girls have resumed education after returning to schools
Interim Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Friday expressed the hope that talks between Pakistan and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) would bear “positive” results and noted that some progress in this regard had been made.
Speaking with The Express Tribune, the Taliban's top envoy said people should not expect the dialogue to take place over a few days as these things take time. "There have been some positive improvements and we are hopeful for a positive outcome of the talks," he added.
The comment by the Afghan FM came amid reports that a ceasefire had been signed between the TTP and the Pakistan government to put an end to militancy in the region. The talks are reportedly being brokered by the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
Muttaqi, who visited Pakistan to attend a meeting on Afghanistan, said the Afghan delegation and the Pakistani authorities talked about transit trade, refugee and visa issues among others.
He added there would be "good news" for Pak-Afghan ties. According to Muttaqi, the Taliban regime demanded trade access to the Wagah border, Karachi and Gwadar ports to boost commercial activities.
In a comment on global recognition of the Taliban regime, he said if “recognition” meant “cooperation” then the Taliban delegations were travelling around the world, meeting envoys and discussing issues pertaining to Afghanistan. "This means we have been recognised as the sole representatives of Afghanistan," he added.
Alluding to global demands for an inclusive government and fundamental rights in Afghanistan, he said the Taliban would fulfill demands that were beneficial to the Afghan people. "But this does not mean that Taliban are not open to talks on contentious issues," he added.
Read Govt is engaging with TTP factions for peace, reconciliation: PM
The Afghan FM also addressed a public talk organised by the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA) in Islamabad at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI),
Speaking about women's rights in Afghanistan, Muttaqi said 100% of Afghan women were working in the health sector, whereas in the education sector, the number was around 75%.
“75% of the girls have resumed their education after returning to schools.”
The Afghan envoy said primary schools were open in all parts of the country whereas secondary schools had resumed classes in a few provinces. He said there were 200,000 teachers in Afghanistan and urged the world to help the Taliban government in payment of their salaries.
He maintained that the Taliban founder, Mullah Omar, had directed the Taliban to use the constitution of King Zahir Shah, but the Taliban would strike down clauses that were against Islamic principles. "I am making it clear that Afghanistan is not a lawless country," he added.
Muttaqi said the ex-Afghan National Army personnel would not be integrated as the Taliban-led Afghanistan will not have the need for such a large force. "We will have our own force soon," he added.
He mentioned the negative campaign in foreign media against the interim government of Afghanistan, terming it contrary to the facts.
In this regard, he stated that 500,000 civil servants were being paid and not a single person was fired on the basis of political views. Also, no woman was removed from her job or had her salary cut, he added.
He said Afghanistan had around 3,000 clinics and hospitals, which were still operational adding that there was no rationale behind the sanctions imposed by the “international human rights champions” on Afghanistan by freezing the assets.
“Reforms, which the international community wants the interim government to work towards, can be done peacefully, and not through pressure tactics,” he said.
“The current cabinet with all ethnicities has already fulfilled the requirement of the international community for an inclusive government,” he added.
“We are being punished for something which is a possibility in the future.”
Muttaqi stressed that his government wanted Afghanistan to be no more a conflict ground for major powers, adding that for the first time in 43 years, the country had a “central, responsible, and sovereign government which had control on every inch of the territory”.
“We, in Afghanistan have a historic opportunity to create a win-win situation for everyone. The new developments have opened new opportunities for stability.”
The envoy shed light on the new developments in Afghanistan besides expressing views on the new “balanced” foreign policy and relations with Pakistan.
“We must not be a prisoner of the past. Peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan and vice versa,” he said. “We are now pursuing a balanced policy.”
He said there remained no anti-Pak elements in Afghanistan and the new government was trying its best to not let the territory be used against any other country.
The Afghan minister said since the takeover of Kabul without any bloodshed, there was peace due to the support of the people.
He observed that the “new government of Afghanistan does not pursue a policy of revenge”.
Muttaqi said Afghanistan, owing to its unique geographical location, could serve as a point of connectivity for the entire region.
He mentioned that efforts were afoot to have a dialogue with Central Asian states for resumption of its trade with Pakistan, which he said, would also benefit Afghanistan. He also expressed the desire to have a bilateral trade with Islamabad.
Muttaqi appreciated Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees residing in the country for more than 40 years.
Director General ISSI Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said the situation in Afghanistan was a ground reality with a consensus that the people of Afghanistan want peace. If there is chaos in Afghanistan, it will lead to terrorism, he said.
Chairman BOG, ISSI Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, and Director CAMEA Amina Khan spoke on the occasion.
The event was attended by members of the diplomatic corps in Islamabad, academics, civil society and diplomats.
With input from APP
 
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