Interior minister reiterates claims of ‘foreign forces’ attempting to stoke unrest in Pakistan due to the country’s economic gains
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Sunday said that Islamabad hopes the Afghan Taliban will not allow militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan to target Pakistan, as Prime Minister Imran Khan had already pledged to not allow the U.S. to operate any military bases on Pakistani soil.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has categorically said that we [Pakistan] will not give any bases to the United States to use against Afghanistan,” he told media in Islamabad. “But we also expect from the [Afghan] Taliban that they will not allow TTP [Tehreek-e-Pakistan Taliban] and other elements to carry out any activity which causes harm to the lives and property of Pakistani people,” he said, suggesting he believes the Taliban’s return to power is inevitable.
This statement contrasts repeated statements by senior government officials, including the prime minister, that it is up to the Afghan people to decide who should form their next government.
Earlier this week, P.M. Khan had told U.S. media that Pakistan was no longer willing to allow Washington to establish any military bases on its soil. “Islamabad is ready to be a partner for peace in Afghanistan with Washington because both the countries wanted stability, development and denial of terrorists’ havens there,” he said, adding that Pakistan had already paid a heavy price for its role in the war on terror and it could not afford a situation wherein it was being targeted by the Taliban in retaliatory strikes.
During his interaction with the press, Rashid reiterated his claims of terrorism in Pakistan increasing because the country’s economy was prospering and some “international powers” wanted to pressure the incumbent government. “There are efforts underway to cause chaos,” he claimed, adding that Pakistan’s police and military would defeat such plans, as authorities had earlier “defeated” the coronavirus pandemic.
He also sought to accuse protesters demanding their rights of “unfairly” choosing Islamabad as the site of their demonstrations instead of their provincial capitals because the federal capital has “international media, embassies, organizations” as spectators. “We will improve the Islamabad police to overcome this,” he added.
The interior minister said that 88 percent of the Pak-Afghan border had already been fenced, adding that the remaining portion should be completed by the end of July. Similarly, he said, fencing along the Iranian border would be completed by the end of this year. He claimed that once this measure was fully implemented, it would help reduce illegal cross-border movement and smuggling.