Bilawal Bhutto rules out ‘surgical strikes’ inside Afghanistan
Says Pakistan prefers Afghan govt to take action against terrorists: Islamabad not interested in cross-border operation: Political and military leadership will not hold talks with any terror group: Pakistan facing multidimensional economic challenges
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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has declared that Pakistan has no intention of carrying out any operation by crossing the border of Afghanistan.
“We are ‘not interested’ in starting cross-border operations or surgical strikes,” Bilawal Bhutto told Turkish news outlet Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“We’re not interested in launching a cross-border operation, nor would we want to advocate for more military intervention after what we’ve already seen was the longest war.”
“After seeing a long war, we do not advocate further military intervention. Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have not been smooth since the Taliban’s capture of Kabul in August 2021. Terrorist attacks have intensified in Pakistan in recent months.”
Bilawal Bhutto said that the government will not hold any talks with terrorist organizations that do not respect the country’s laws and constitution.
“I believe that if we can work with the Afghan interim government, which has influence over these groups, we will be able to maintain our security,” he said and added the Pakistan’s new leadership, both political and military, will not hold any talks with terrorist organizations that do not respect the country’s laws and constitution.
Bilawal was asked whether Pakistan expected the new Afghan government to act against the TTP. He replied, “We are both victims of terrorism. I do not believe that the government of Afghanistan will be successful against terrorism on its own, nor will we be successful against terrorism on our own. We have to work together.”
Responding to a question, Bilawal said, “The whole aim of the Pakistan People’s Party is to make Pakistan a democratic country. We believe that democracy is the only way to deal with extremism and terrorism.
Asked whether he could become the prime minister this year, Bilawal said he would have to win the elections first.
The foreign minister reiterated Pakistan’s demand for the Taliban government to weed out terrorist organisations and offered to help in any such efforts. “The most legitimate and the most viable way for us to address the issue of terrorism will be for the interim government in Afghanistan to take appropriate action against these groups.”
“What we will prefer is for the interim government of Afghanistan to take action against terrorists that may be in their country, and we are ready and willing to help them increase their capacity and ability to deal with that threat.”
On the country’s economic conditions, Bilawal said the country is grappling with “multidimensional challenges”. “I think these are incredibly challenging economic times for everyone, particularly where we are seeing the fallout from Covid, the consequences of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the sanctions associated with that having an outside effect on the (global) economy,” he said.
“Everyone is facing inflation and difficult economic problems.” For Pakistan, he explained, an additional burden has been the problems related to Afghanistan. “We’ve seen the fall of Kabul and the consequences that has had on our economy,” he said.
Adding to that is the devastation caused by the “catastrophic climate event” last year, he said, referring to the deadly floods that claimed hundreds of lives and caused widespread losses that government estimates place at around $30 billion.
This was a disaster “on a scale that has never been recorded in Pakistan’s history,” Bilawal emphasised.
The International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan was held in Geneva earlier this month with the specific aim of helping our country’s ongoing recovery efforts, he said.
Praising Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s video message at the event, he said Pakistan remains “grateful for the consistent support of the brotherly people of Turkiye.”
“Every time the people of Pakistan are in trouble, we have been able to always count on our (Turkish) brothers and sisters for support. And particularly when we were facing the brunt of the monsoon rains and the flooding, not only the Turkish government but also Turkish people supported us,” he said.
He said the Geneva conference was “a resounding success, particularly from a foreign policy perspective.”
Pakistan went in seeking $8 billion but the pledges exceeded more than $9 billion, that too at a time when every country in the world is facing its own domestic economic problems, said Bilawal.
“The world has stood in solidarity with Pakistan in this difficult time. This is an important message on climate change and it also gives us a confidence boost as far as our economy is concerned,” he added. “Obviously, we do have to take all the necessary measures domestically to address our economic challenges.”