The UK announces to release £30m of life-saving support to Afghan neighbors

–Pakistan, Britain agree to further strengthen mutual ties

ISLAMABAD: British Secretary of State for Foreign,
Commonwealth and Development Affairs Dominic Raab on Friday announced
that his country is releasing Pounds 30 million of life-saving support
to Afghanistan’s neighbors including Pakistan.

Addressing a news conference along with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood
Qureshi after delegation-level talks in Islamabad and said the aim is to
provide shelter, household necessities, and sanitation to the fleeing
Afghans. He said we recognize this problem and we want to be partners in
solutions with a key partner like Pakistan.  He said the UK is mindful of
the situation for Afghanistan’s neighbors and it will be shouldering its
humanitarian responsibility.

The UK Foreign Secretary said his country also stands by its commitment
for the Afghan future.  He said that during talks with Foreign Minister
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, matters of humanitarian lifeline and regional
stability was discussed as well as the Afghan land does not again
become a safe haven for terrorists.

Dominic Raab said we have also increased our aid budget for Afghanistan
this year to 286 million pounds. He said we have evacuated fifteen
thousand people to the UK and they are working together to secure a safe
passage for others who have yet not get out of Afghanistan.

Describing his meeting with the Foreign Minister Qureshi as constructive
and cordial, Dominic Raab said both Pakistan and the UK enjoy strong
relations.  He said his country desires to take the relationship to the
next level.

Dominic Raab also said that the United Kingdom wants to strengthen ties with
Pakistan in diversified fields. The British Secretary of State said that
Pakistan and UK have mutual views regarding the future of people living
in Afghanistan. He further thanked Pakistan for assisting the evacuation of
British nationals from Afghanistan. “We hope that the Taliban will bring
stability in Afghanistan,” he expressed.

He said that Pakistan and Britain want peace in Afghanistan. He
reiterated that Pakistan had no favorites in Afghanistan.

Dominic Raab said it would not have been possible to evacuate some
15,000 people from Kabul without some degree of cooperation with the
Taliban, who seized Kabul on August 15. “We do see the importance of
being able to engage and have a direct line of communication,” he

Reacting to the British foreign secretary’s visit, Foreign Minister
Qureshi said that through such dialogues with the British government
representatives, Pakistan upgrades its relations with the UK to a higher
level. He said Pakistan had made “tremendous progress” on getting out of
FATF’s grey list. “We have taken legislative steps, administrative steps
and further concrete measures are being taken,” he said.

Qureshi averred he discussed Pakistan’s name on the UK’s Red List with
the visiting dignitary, adding that he told the British foreign
secretary how people in Pakistan felt about it and “what needs to be
done to take Pakistan’s name off the Red List and into the Amber List.”

He said Special Assitant on National Health Services Dr. Faisal Sultan
will hold a meeting with the British authorities on Monday and put
forward Pakistan’s point of view.

The foreign minister said he is happy that a meeting has been arranged
between Dr. Faisal Sultan and British authorities on Monday in which he
would suggest ways about how “both sides can be comfortable and overcome
this challenge.”

“On the whole, it was a frank and candid discussion. Thank you for
coming,” concluded the foreign minister.

In response to a question, Qureshi said he had raised the issue of
atrocities in Occupied Kashmir that are being committed by India.

Qureshi said he discussed how Geelani was denied a “decent burial” by
Indian security forces, adding that it was a violation of an
individual’s basic right. “There will be hundreds of funerals [for
Geelani]. There is one taking place right here in Islamabad today. Every
parliamentarian will go there. If you [UK foreign secretary] were not
here, I would have gone myself,” added Qureshi.

He said it was not possible to suppress freedom of expression. The
Pakistani foreign minister said he discussed the issue with Raab, who
said the UK’s position on Kashmir is a stated and known one. “However,
he told me that it does not stop them from raising human rights

In response, Raab said that the UK has a longstanding policy of
encouraging India and Pakistan both to pursue a solution to the Kashmir
crisis. “It is not for the UK to impose its solution to the Kashmir
crisis,” he said, adding that London encouraged both Islamabad and New
Delhi to hold concrete dialogue over the issue. TF Report

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