Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has said that the Afghan Taliban had reassured the government that the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) would not be given permission to operate in Afghanistan against Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Monday, the minister said some TTP members like Maulavi Faqir Mohammad had been released by the Taliban after taking over Kabul on August 15, adding that the government was in “contact” with the Taliban on the issue.

“The authorities there have been told that those who have done terrorism in Pakistan [are controlled].

“The Afghan Taliban have reassured [us] that Afghanistan’s land will not be allowed to be used in any case by the TTP,” said Rashid.

The minister said Pakistan wanted peace in Afghanistan since peace in one country was related to peace in the other.

Replying to a question on Pakistan’s efforts to facilitate evacuations from Afghanistan, Rashid said more than 1,200 people, including Americans, had been evacuated and more than 4,000 visas had been issued.

Fifty members of the Afghan cricket team had been issued visas as well and one-month visa-on-arrival facilities were being provided to diplomats and officials of international organisations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, he added.

He said the interior ministry was also ramping up its capacity in case more visas need to be issued.

The interior minister clarified that Pakistan had no connection with the situation at Kabul’s airport.

“People are expecting us to gather people from different areas and give them entry to Kabul airport but this is not our responsibility,” Rashid said.

Regarding refugees, he said no decision had been made but people coming at the border were being facilitated.

Rashid said that Pakistan had “no reservation” on requests by the European Union and other countries to park their planes in Pakistan for transport and other matters.

Regarding the fallout from the Afghan situation, he said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) importance had increased.

Terming CPEC the “jugular vein” of Pakistan’s economy, he claimed there were “international conspiracies” against the project but the government was committed to taking it further.

He said 40 companies operating under CPEC were being provided protection by the army but recent events at Dasu and Quetta’s Serena Hotel blast signalled that “people want to play with the lives of Chinese who are not only friends but well-wishers of Pakistan.”

Rashid said he had assured Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong of complete security to Chinese workers.

Regarding investigations of incidents, he said some suspects had been arrested while others were being traced.

“We have reached the source of the Fisher Colony incident as well,” he said, referring to Friday’s suicide attack targeting a vehicle carrying Chinese nationals in Balochistan’s Gwadar district.

CHINESE AMBASSADOR: Nong Rong met Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Sunday to take up the issue of safety of Chinese working in Pakistan and demanded stronger security protocol for them.

The one-on-one meeting took place in Islamabad a couple of days after a suicide attack on a motorcade carrying Chinese nationals in Gwadar. Three Pakistani children were killed in the attack and one Chinese worker was hurt.

The minister said a joint strategy was being devised for the protection of Chinese companies and workers in Pakistan. “We will improve security protocol of Chinese nationals at any cost,” he assured the ambassador.

They also discussed the latest situation in Afghanistan and its impact on Pakistan.

He said: “We will continue to play our role for permanent peace in Afghanistan as fast-changing developments have turned the region more important.”

The Chinese ambassador and the interior minister also vowed that the two countries would not allow development activities and cooperation to be held hostage by terrorists.

The story was filed by the News Desk.
The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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