We support diplomatic resolution to various issues between Afghanistan, Pakistan: US

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The US supports diplomatic resolution to all of the various issues between Afghanistan and Pakistan, US Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a press briefing on Monday (local time). Asked whether the US is concerned about the ties going bad between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Matthew Miller said, “With respect to relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, obviously, we support a diplomatic resolution to all of the various issues between those two countries. It’s something that we have been engaged on, we have detailed the substance of some of those specific engagements in the past few weeks and we will continue to do so.” Notably, the ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan became strained after the Pakistani caretaker government initiated a nationwide campaign to deport illegal foreign nationals, the majority of whom are Afghans.

In response to another question, Matthew Miller reiterated that the US does not play any role in choosing the leaders of Pakistan. He said that the US engages with Pakistan’s leadership, as decided by the people of the country. In 2022, Pakistan’s then-PM Imran Khan claimed that the US was involved in a conspiracy to oust him. However, the US denied involvement in the matter. Asked about the US’ reaction to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan, he said, “The United States does not play any role in choosing the leaders of Pakistan. We engage with the leadership decided by Pakistani people and we will continue to engage with the government of Pakistan on all these issues.”

Meanwhile, the Pakistan interim government’s decision to deport illegal refugees received criticism from Afghanistan and United Nations agencies, which called on Islamabad to halt the deportation. The Pakistan caretaker government has refused to budge and insisted that the decision is not aimed at any particular ethnic group. Earlier on December 7, former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is currently incarcerated in Adiala Jail, criticised the treatment being meted out to Afghan refugees, Pakistan-based Dawn reported. He said that treating refugees was a “national obligation” and also highlighted the traditional and historical links between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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In a statement issued on social media platform X, Imran Khan said Pakistan had accommodated Afghan refugees for close to 40 years and the effects of decades of hospitality were being wasted due to a “deficient plan,” Dawn reported. He said that 1.5 million refugees were not that much of a burden on the population of 12 million people. Of the more than four million Afghans living in Pakistan, the Pakistani caretaker government estimates that 1.7 million are undocumented, according to Dawn report. So far, thousands of Afghans have returned to Afghanistan through the Torkham and Chaman border crossings.

Earlier in November, the United Nations voiced concern about the welfare of Afghan citizens who have arrived in Afghanistan amid Pakistan’s deportation of Afghan refugees, Afghanistan-based Khaama Press reported. UN called on the Pakistan government to halt the expulsion of more than one million Afghan refugees, at least during the winter season.