Pakistan says peace in Afghanistan in country’s interest

MULTAN, Pakistan: Pakistan’s foreign minister has said that peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest.

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Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in his home town of Multan that Pakistan is worried about the rising violence in neighbouring Afghanistan, expressing fears that further violence could cause an exodus of Afghans to Pakistan.

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He said his country has already taken in millions of Afghans as refugees from previous conflicts and does not have the capacity to take more.

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He said the final withdrawal of US and Nato forces was continuing and he expressed a hope that peace would follow through a negotiated settlement between the warring sides.

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Pakistan will continue its diplomatic efforts for peace in the country, and welcome its democratically elected leadership, Qureshi said.

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More than 5 million Afghans fled to Pakistan from infighting between Mujahedeen groups after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. An estimated 1.5 million Afghans are still living as refugees in Pakistan. “We can’t take more, we will have to shut our border, we have to safeguard our national interest,’’ he said.

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Millions of Afghans fled to Pakistan from infighting between Mujahideen groups after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.

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The Taliban ruled Afghanistan until they were ousted by a US-led coalition after the September 11, 2001 attacks in America. In recent weeks, Taliban fighters have overrun several districts in south and northern Afghanistan, convincing government security forces to surrender and seizing their weapons and military vehicles.

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