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Afghan supports Imarn Khan quest for open border with Afghanistan: Afghan Ambassador

29 October, 2018

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Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal has said that his country supports Prime Minister Imarn Khan’s quest for open border with Afghanistan but at the same believes that the best thing for Afghan refugees is to return to their home.

Prime Minister Khan in his victory speech had “wished” to have open borders with Afghanistan on the pattern of European Union at a time when the Pakistan Army was busy fencing its porous border in a bid to plug traditional routes for cross-border movement of militants. “That will be the best thing between Pakistan and Afghanistan if we get that,” Zakhilwal, who is Afghan President Ashraf Gahni’s special envoy for Pakistan, told Daily Times in an interview when asked to respond to Imran Khan’s idea he floated on July 26.

But when asked as how that could be implemented when Pakistan was fencing border with Afghanistan, he said: “We oppose the fencing as it will restrict interdependency and flow of people from both sides of the border. But we appreciate PM Khan’s idea and there is no doubt about that.” When his attention was invited to Pakistan’s stance that the fencing was part of the border management to stop infiltration of militants, the ambassador said, “I think that preventing infiltration requires more of a policy change than restricting ordinary people’s lives. That is not an effective way.”

He argued that change in policies would be helpful to counter the threat of militants and said both sides should support each other’s peace and stability initiatives. “There is a need to promote trade, free flow of people and culture exchange that exists between the people of the two countries as barbed wires or barriers can’t address the existing grievances.”

When asked about Imran Khan’s suggestion to grant Pakistani citizenship to Afghans refugees, he opposed the suggestion. “Our preference for Afghan refugees is to return to Afghanistan. They want to return to their country.”

When asked about Kabul’s stance on Afghans refugees who want to stay in Pakistan, the envoy said that the Afghan government won’t push them to return. He, however, said that

Afghan refugees who had already got Pakistani citizenship would also return to Afghanistan after restoration of peace. To another question about Pakistan’s role in bringing the Afghan Taliban to negotiating table, he said that is was a shared responsibility for lasting peace in Afghanistan.

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