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Munich Conference: Terrorism to move beyond Pakistan if Afghanistan does not rein in militants, says Bilawal

Foriegn Minister Bilawal warns West about threats of terrorism

February 19, 2023
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks during a panel discussion at Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 18, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — Twitter/@MediaCellPPP
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari speaks during a panel discussion at Munich Security Conference in Germany on February 18, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — Twitter/@MediaCellPPP

MUNICH: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Saturday said that it would not take much time for terrorism to visit other places beyond Pakistan if the interim Afghan government did not demonstrate the “will and capacity” to take on militant groups operating from its territory. He further said the global community wanted the Afghan interim government to live up to its obligations and commitments in areas like women’s education, all-inclusive government and tackling of potential threats from terrorism emanating from terrorist groups of Daesh, TTP and Al-Qaeda.

Addressing the Munich Security Conference in Germany, the PPP chairman said the most important issue regarding Afghanistan in the region was the “security and terrorist threat emanating out” of the country. “The concern is that if we and the interim government don’t take these groups seriously and they don’t demonstrate the will and the capacity to take on terrorist groups, then they will conduct terrorist activities in the region first — we are already witnessing an uptick in terrorist activity in Pakistan since the fall of Kabul — but it won’t be long before it reaches somewhere else.”

He said that there was a whole “alphabet soup” of terrorist organisations that were based out of Afghanistan while not enough seriousness was paid to the issue by the international community or the Afghan government.

Bilawal urged the international community to act “pro-actively” rather than reactively after the nightmare scenario. “The key is to convince … the interim government in Afghanistan with the international community’s consensus, to take on terrorism within their borders and demonstrate the will to do so,” he added, urging the international community to help the Afghan interim authorities in capacity building to take on threats of terrorism.

On Friday, militants stormed Karachi Police Office in the city’s main artery of Sharea Faisal. The security forces cleared the five-storey building after nearly a four-hour operation. TTP — which has safe havens in Afghanistan — later claimed responsibility for the attack.The outlawed TTP was also involved in the Peshawar mosque suicide attack that killed more than 80 people, mainly policemen — one of the deadliest attacks in recent years.The interim government neither had a standing army, a counter-terrorism force or even a border force, FM Bilawal said.

Bilawal said the global community should convince the Afghan interim government to take on the threat of terrorism and demonstrate its will. Terrorism not only posed a threat to immediate neighbours of Afghanistan but also to the West, he warned.

Pakistan had helped Afghanistan in the past and would continue to do so as it had hosted the largest number of Afghan refugees on its soil, he said, adding that the international community could not wash their hands off and turn away from Afghanistan.

He stressed that the world should continue its humanitarian support, unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets, open up banking channels and engage with the Taliban, society and women.

The foreign minister reiterated that a peaceful Afghanistan was vital for the stability of the region and the international community must play its role in this regard.

The Afghan interim government had assured to eradicate terrorism from its soil, he added.

Earlier Saturday, Pakistan once again emphasised for early resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.

Talking to his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, FM Bilawal conveyed his concerns over the conflict.

The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on a range of issues and resolved to further enhance bilateral cooperation for benefit of their peoples.

Meanwhile, in a Tweet, the foreign minister said he also held an enriching discussion with senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi on global, regional and bilateral matters.