British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that “we do not recognise the Taliban as a government, but we do see the importance of engaging and having direct line of communication with them.”

Secretary Raab was addressing a press conference along with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Foreign Office on Friday after “reviewing Afghan situation and bilateral relations during a meeting.”

Although Qureshi and Raab spoke about the “peace and stability in Afghanistan” at the news conference, their approaches to achieve that goal were divergent.

While Qureshi urged the world community to work with the Afghan Taliban, Raab, who earlier visited the Afghanistan-Pakistan border at Torkham, said his country “doesn’t recognise the Taliban government”.

Raab said: “The approach we’re taking is that we don’t recognise the Taliban as a government. Britain normally recognises states rather than governments.”

 “We do see the importance of being able to engage and having a direct line of communication.”

Secretary Raab said: “No one wants to see the economic and social fabric of Afghanistan collapse.”

However, the UK wanted to work with humanitarian agencies, rather than “the Taliban”, he added.

Later, a foreign office statement said that “in the context of bilateral relations, it was agreed that the strong Pakistan-UK bilateral relations must be further expanded, especially in the economic and trade spheres.”

The two sides reaffirmed the resolve to upgrade the relationship from the current ‘Enhanced Strategic Dialogue’ to the next level, the statement added.

Qureshi urged the British government to reconsider its decision to keep Pakistan on the ‘Red List’ for travel that required people coming from there to hotel quarantine.

Qureshi also highlighted the progress made by Pakistan in the implementation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) action plan and expressed the hope that no attempt would be allowed to politicise the process.

“The basis for the UK-Pakistan relationship is very strong — and the UK has the desire to take it to the next level. We also have a very clear and shared interest in the future of Afghanistan. We will judge the Taliban by their actions, not their words,” Raab declared.

MEETS COAS: Secretary Dominic Raab on Friday discussed “issues of mutual interest, regional security, current situation in Afghanistan and measures to enhance bilateral cooperation in various fields” with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

According to an Inter-Service Public relations (ISPR) statement, Secretary Raab met General Bajwa in Islamabad.

“Both sides agreed to continue exploring avenues for collaboration in defence, training and counter terrorism domains,” said the statement.

“General Bajwa reiterated that Pakistan remains committed to make all-out efforts to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and supports an all-inclusive Afghan government.”

“They reiterated the desire to further enhance bilateral relations, including efforts for peace and security in the region and fight against Covid-19.”

“The visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan’s role in Afghan situation, including successful evacuation operations, regional stability and pledged to play their role for further improvement in diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan at all levels,” it added.

CALLS ON PM IMRAN: Later in the evening, Raab called on Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The prime minister underscored the need for stabilising the security situation in Afghanistan, taking steps to consolidate peace, and precluding any mass exodus. Preventing humanitarian crisis and stabilising the economy were the urgent needs, he said.

He urged the international community to stand in solidarity with the Afghan people, undertake positive engagement, and create incentives for ensuring a peaceful, stable and inclusive polity.

Earlier on Thursday, Secretary Raab was welcomed by foreign ministry and British High Commission officials on arrival at Nur Khan Airbase.

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

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