As the Taliban resumes attacks on Afghan security forces and civilians, Pakistan extended support to the terrorist group, saying it would be an "exaggeration" to hold them responsible for violence in Afghanistan.
Islamabad has been accused of aiding the Taliban and using them as proxies for its own benefit.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi defended the Taliban for increase in violence in Afghanistan and shifted the blame on Daesh, another word for ISIS (another word for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria).
Talking to Tolo News in an exclusive interview at his office in Islamabad last week, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, "If you try and create this impression that the violence is high because of Taliban, again, that would be an exaggeration. Why do I say that? Aren't there other elements over there who are playing the role of a spoiler?"
"Daesh. Like forces within Afghanistan - who came from the war economy. Who want to perpetuate their power, who are not seeing beyond their nose and just want to hang on to power."
Qureshi rejected Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan and said most of their leaders "are in Afghanistan".
Asked whether Taliban are "funded in Pakistan", Qureshi said: "These are very--those many things that have been going on for years. You're stuck in the old groove. Get of out that groove, please. Get out of that groove. Now, listen, if you remain stuck in this, believe me you will not be able to travel far. And we want you to travel far. We want reconciliation and peace."
Qureshi, seemingly skeptical about further progress in the peace process under the current circumstances, said President Ghani has "a very important responsibility on his shoulders" and he must "show the leadership and the flexibility" necessary to achieve progress in the peace process.
Qureshi mentioned Doha as the best place for engaging in talks with the Taliban--even between the leaders of both sides--but said this will not happen unless there is willingness from both sides.
According to Qureshi, the world's approach has changed as it does not hold the view that peace can be achieved through a military solution.
In response to a question on what type of a government Pakistan would favour as an outcome of the peace process, Qureshi said it is a decision to be made by Afghans.
"That's for the people of Afghanistan to decide--who governs them and what kind of a political dispensation Afghanistan wants," he said. "What we're saying is you are all Afghans. Peace can only come to Afghanistan if you sit and reconcile. When you sit and reconcile, when you sit and talk, you will determine what kind of constitution we want, what kind of, you know, system should be in place."
When asked about the status of the Afghan peace process and progress in this respect, Qureshi said it should be asked of Afghans.
"The peace process has to come to its logical conclusion through an intra-Afghan negotiation. We're not sitting at the table with them. Wherever required, we've facilitated. We cannot decide for you. It's the Afghans that will sit and decide what they want," he said.
Referring to Taliban leaders, he said, they're in Afghanistan and the Afghans "need to engage with them."
"We're only engaging with them to facilitate the peace process. We're trying to be helpful. We're trying to be constructive."
The minister said that violence has to go down and the process of peace and negotiations has to accelerate.
In response to a question about whether the country is moving toward a civil war, Qureshi said it depends on the Afghan leadership.
"It depends on you, depends on the Afghan leadership, depends on the ability of the Afghan leadership to carve a way forward. If you fail, if the Afghan leadership fail, then yes, we are heading for a civil war," he added.
Reacting to Qureshi's remarks, Afghan National Security Adviser Hamadullah Mohib accused Islamabad of enabling a violent offensive by the terror group in Afghanistan.
The Afghan NSA had tweeted that Qureshi's interview "comes as Taliban launches violent offensives against Afghan people across the country, we know how & why they continue to be enabled to do this. Quraishi is either uninformed, ignorant or accomplice. Maybe he also rejects that, Osama was found next to Pakistani Military HQ."(ANI)