Pakistan’s foreign minister says the international community must stop blaming Islamabad for the fast-deteriorating situation in Afghanistan against the backdrop of advances by the Taliban.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi said at a news conference on Monday that the world needed to look into the “meltdown” of Afghan forces instead of blaming Pakistan.
“Issues of governance and the meltdown of Afghan national defense forces need to be looked into.”
“The capacity-building, the training, the equipment... where is it?,” Qureshi asked, referring to resources spent by the United States and its allies on bolstering Afghanistan’s national force.
The Taliban militants have swiftly gained territory across Afghanistan since May. Only six provincial capitals have fallen to the Taliban in the past three days.
Kabul and several Western governments say Pakistan's support for the Taliban allowed it to weather a two-decade of war after being pushed from power in 2001 by the US-led invasion.
Senior civilian and military officials in Pakistan deny supporting the Taliban.
Qureshi also said Pakistan was not taking sides in Afghanistan and it cannot be held responsible for the failure of others.
“The lack of will to fight, the capitulation that we are seeing in Afghanistan... can we be held responsible for that? No we cannot.”
The minister said Pakistan had been instrumental in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table with the US and facilitated the resultant deal between the two in Doha last year.
Pakistan, the foreign minister said, also helped convene peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in September 2020.
Qureshi said Pakistan was for a political solution to Afghanistan’s conflict.
Questioning the messy withdrawal of US forces, Qureshi said Pakistan thought the pullout would be tied to the progress in the peace talks.
Several countries, including Afghanistan, have blamed a hasty and unconditional withdrawal of foreign troops for the success of the Taliban.
Violence has been surging across Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of the foreign forces. The 2001 invasion of Afghanistan ousted the Taliban from power, but it worsened the security situation in the country.
The Taliban militants are believed to be in control of about half of Afghanistan’s roughly 400 districts.
The government has pledged to defend strategic centers after losing many rural districts to the Taliban in recent months.