Moscow (February 20, 2018): Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Tuesday said that the unchecked and increasing presence of Daesh is a cause of concern for Pakistan.
Addressing a press conference with Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, Asif said Pakistan and Russia share common concerns regarding “threats posed by prevailing situation in Afghanistan…[which include] terrorism, exponential increase in drug production, [and] use of drug money for terror finance”.
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The foreign minister said that the concerns also include security of regional countries, increasing presence of Daesh, location of the organisation’s camps close to border with Pakistan and central Asian states.
“An Afghan-led reconciliation process…is the only viable option for lasting peace in Afghanistan,” he added.He also praised Russia’s role for its efforts in establishing global peace and said it is playing an instrumental role against Daesh.
Asif repeated Pakistan’s stance that it is blamed for foreign forces’ failure to bring peace in Afghanistan and said it has rejected allegations aimed at “scapegoating” Pakistan for the West’s “monumental failure in Afghanistan”.
“Pakistan has sustained a lot of damage in the fight against terrorism,” he added.
Commenting on relations with India, the foreign minister said that Pakistan wishes to hold talks with India to resolve Kashmir and other issues.Russia is “very preoccupied” by the increasing presence and influence of militant Islamic State (IS) fighters in Afghanistan, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.
“We are very preoccupied by what is happening in Afghanistan and by the expansion of IS influence,” Lavrov said during a press conference in Moscow with his Pakistan counterpart Khawaja Muhammad Asif.
According to Lavrov, the presence of IS in the north and east of Afghanistan is “serious” and “already amounts to a thousand people.” Moscow is especially concerned, he said, about the security threat this creates for neighbouring former Soviet republics and to Russia.“This is right on the borders of our Central Asian neighbours. It increases the risk of terrorists entering Central Asia, from where it’s not difficult for them to get to Russia, and further,” Lavrov said.
IS and the Taliban have staged several attacks in Afghanistan in recent weeks, including one on a luxury hotel in Kabul on January 20.
Russia has repeatedly criticised Washington’s strategy in Afghanistan, calling on the Taliban to be included in peace negotiations with the Afghan government.
Asif left for a four-day official visit to Russia on Monday, the Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement.Asif is visiting Russia at the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Office said.
During the visit, Asif will hold bilateral negotiations with his Russian counterpart. The two dignitaries will discuss the current state of affairs and prospects for bilateral relations, as well as exchange views on important issues facing the region and the world.