ISLAMABAD - Contradicting some Indian media reports, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Wednesday said that Pakistan was facing no influx of Afghan refugees at the moment and there was complete “peace and tranquillity” at its borders.

He also said that the decision to recognize any likely government of Taliban in Kabul rested with Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Foreign Office but added that Pakistan has a crucial role in the given circumstances and “no super power can bypass it.”

The remarks of the interior minister came after Taliban seized power from Western-backed government in Kabul on last weekend and now they are making an effort to form an “inclusive, Islamic government” in the war-torn country.  

“Torkham and Chaman borders (crossings) are completely peaceful,” said Sheikh Rashid while addressing a press conference at the Ministry of Interior here.

He said that both border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan were open for movement, trade and transit visa facilities. At least, 800 trucks have crossed both crossings during the last three days, he also said.    

“Neither any Afghan refugee is entering into Pakistan nor we have made arrangements for them,” he said adding that they were facing no problem at this front. He further said that claims of India media about Pakistan’s border situation along Afghanistan were totally false.  

“Our Armed Forces, civil armed forces and police are alert and everything is fine and all-right on our borders,” he said and stressed that India and its media are making a false propaganda about some influx of refugees and mismanagement at Pakistan’s borders.

Talking about the efforts of the government to evacuate Pakistanis and foreigners from Afghanistan, the interior minister said that the cabinet had given a six-week plan to the Ministry of Interior to issue visas to foreigners after clearance of agencies.

He said that the ministry was working round the clock to implement the plan and on the instructions of PM Imran Khan, all such persons have been issued visas in a day. He said that immigration staff and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were alert on borders and all airports and the data of all travelers was being entered into Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) to keep a record.

He further said that foreign diplomats, and their staff, journalists, few Afghan nationals working with international media and their children; and the staff of international non-government organizations and other institutions like International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank were being given facility of transit and on arrival visas. He said that they were being allowed to stay at the local airports till they leave for other countries and only those diplomats having diplomatic passports were allowed to enter Pakistan.

We have brought at least 900 foreign diplomats, and their staff from Afghanistan to Pakistan through air route since August 14 and 613 Pakistanis have been brought into the country since the day, Sheikh Rashid informed reporters. He also said that around 70 foreign journalists in Afghanistan wanted a chartered a flight for themselves and they would also be allowed transit visas of Pakistan.  

He said that three buses of Pakistanis have entered via Torkham border crossing and remaining 120 Pakistanis stranded in Afghanistan would be evacuated within two days via the same land crossing as now the way up to Kabul was clear. “There are and were some problems at Kabul Airport.” He also said.

The minister reminded that PM Imran Khan, this week, has talked to four heads of state on the Afghan issue. “We are for peace; we are for the negotiations; and we want that this place of Afghanistan should be for all religion groups and women education should be allowed there.” He said that Pakistan had played a vital role to bring both US and Taliban on the negotiation table. He also said that Pakistan’s services for peace would be written in golden words.

Congratulating the premier for completing his three years out of five-year term, he said that PM Khan had tried to convince then Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Uzbekistan in a meeting, in which he was a participant also, but he was stubborn enough to hear to his advice. Every corrupt person has a nature to flee the country along with looted money, he added. “The PM had an understanding in Uzbekistan that Ghani was misunderstood as this was not going to happen what he thinks.”

Endorsing some of the remarks of Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid he made during his other day’s presser in Kabul, the interior minister said that they had a similar agenda that Pakistan neither would interfere into the affairs of other countries nor would it allow others to intervene in its affairs. “We want peace and wanted that Afghans should solve their problems at their own through negotiations, “ he said adding that a peaceful and strong Afghanistan was necessary for a peaceful Pakistan. “We hope that situation in Afghanistan will improve.”

Speaking about security arrangements about Ashura, Sheikh Rashid said that Armed Forces, civil armed forces, police and all instructions were on alert on 9th and 10th Muharram. But at the same time, he appealed to all mourners to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) to contain the spread of Covid-19. He said that Pakistan has an important role to play in international politics and people should give proof of national responsibility during Ashura. He also said that social media was a strong tool as a “hybrid war” was being initiated against Pakistan through it.