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Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Claims Interim Cabinet is ‘Inclusive’

by Newsweek Pakistan

Acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi

During visit to Pakistan, Amir Muttaqi hits out country’s frozen assets, saying it has made it difficult to pay salaries of government employees

The interim cabinet of Afghanistan comprises members from all ethnic groups of the country and fulfills the international community’s demand for an inclusive government, acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said on Friday.

Addressing a talk organized by the Center for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, he lamented that the global community kept demanding reforms from the interim government through pressure tactics when they could be fulfilled peacefully. “We are being punished for something which is a possibility in the future,” he said, adding there was no rationale for the sanctions imposed on Afghanistan by freezing assets parked in banks abroad.

To a question, Muttaqi claimed that 75 percent of girls in the country had returned to schools. The Taliban regime, immediately after coming into power, had shuttered schools, confining thousands of girls to their homes and provoking criticism by the international community. He said it was duplicitous of the international community to emphasize women’s education, but have no concern for how teachers’ salaries were to be paid in light of the country’s assets remaining inaccessible.

Regretting that foreign media was projecting a negative image of the interim government, he said 500,000 civil servants were being paid on time and no individual had been dismissed on the basis of political views. No woman had likewise been removed from her job, he claimed, adding that around 3,000 clinics and hospitals nationwide were still operational.

The acting foreign minister said that his government wanted Afghanistan to no longer be used as a conflict ground for major global powers. He claimed that the country, for the first time in 43 years, had a government that controlled its entire territory. “We, in Afghanistan have a historic opportunity to create a win-win situation for everyone. The new developments have opened up new opportunities for stability,” he said.

On Afghanistan’s ties with Pakistan, Muttaqi said Kabul hoped the ceasefire accord between Islamabad and the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan would evolve into lasting peace. On Monday, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain announced that the government and the TTP had agreed to “complete ceasefire” for one month that could be extended if talks proved fruitful. Confirming his role in mediating peace, Muttaqi reiterated that Afghan soil was no longer being used against Pakistan.

“Currently, there are no anti-Pakistan elements present in Afghanistan,” he claimed, adding that peace in Afghanistan meant peace in Pakistan and vice versa.

Referring to the prevailing situation in his country, the acting foreign minister claimed peace had been achieved in Afghanistan thanks to the support of the people. He claimed the new government did not pursue a policy of revenge.

Muttaqi also referred to Afghanistan’s geographical location as a means to enhance regional connectivity. He said efforts were underway to conduct dialogue with Central Asian states for the resumption of trade with Pakistan, which he said would also benefit Afghanistan.

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