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Pakistan’s constructive role in Afghanistan throughout: German envoy

German envoy while giving an interview to Radio Pakistan lauded Pakistan's constructive role in Afghanistan in the Doha Peace process, engagement with Taliban and the German airlift. He pointed out multiple avenues where their Pak-German cooperation can persist.

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Pakistan’s constructive role in Afghanistan is appreciated by Germany especially in the ‘Doha Process’ for stability, peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and enabling a streamlined airlift of German nationals through a safe passage.

In an exclusive interview with Radio Pakistan, German Ambassador to Pakistan Bernhard Schlagheck said Pakistan’s constructive role in Afghanistan had been acknowledged by the United States, the world community and Germany also recognized Pakistan’s unwavering and dedicated efforts in ensuring a peaceful political settlement in Afghanistan.

He expressed the confidence that Islamabad would continue playing a very constructive role in Afghanistan in future.

Pakistan’s continued positive engagement with Afghan Taliban

The government of Pakistan and armed forces, he said were quite engaged in trying to convince Taliban to bring about an inclusive government in Afghanistan. Pakistan was aware of its potential importance and role in the entire region and Pakistan’s constructive role in Afghanistan is conducive for the region as a whole.

The ambassador said an inclusive government in Kabul was critical for peace and stability of that country.

Read more: Shah Mehmood Qureshi revives Pakistan’s prestige: Reigniting a diplomatic legacy

Afghan neighbors see Afghan peace as vital interest

To a question about role of Afghanistan’s neighbors, the German ambassador said none of them wanted instability in Afghanistan as it was a recipe of political disaster, uncontrolled violence and spillover of militancy.

There were different interests and perspectives that were understandable, there was a genuine understanding that peace and stability in Afghanistan was of vital interest to the region, Bernhard Schlagheck remarked.

On terrorism, he said the menace emanating from Afghanistan and spreading to region was of very much importance.

Pakistan-Germany bilateral cooperation on Afghanistan

While commenting on Pakistan’s constructive role in Afghanistan, the German envoy asserted that the recent visit of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Pakistan was focused on bilateral relations and the evolving regional situation, including Afghanistan.

He said Afghanistan was one of the major issues of discussion in meetings of the German foreign minister with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The German ambassador said situation in Afghanistan was very much in flux. He said Taliban were as much a reality in Afghanistan as well as the precarious humanitarian situation in the country.

He said Germany being a responsible partner of international community was ready to play its role in Afghanistan.

The ambassador said it was very much important that Taliban were willing to discard their old lenses.

Read more: FM Qureshi discusses cooperation on Afghanistan with German FM Heiko Maas

Recognizing Afghan Taliban is still conditional, adds German envoy

Seeing Pakistan’s constructive role in Afghanistan in the context of hosting refugees, providing safe passage for the evacuees and ensuring peace and prosperity through diplomatic efforts, he said we were willing to engage with Afghanistan. However, the question of recognition was not on agenda at the moment. He said we would judge Taliban by their deeds and actions for recognition.

To a question concerning reservations of some Western countries regarding Taliban, he said treatment of women and minorities in Afghanistan and the question of inclusive government in the country were some of the issues the world was looking at.

Bernhard Schlagheck said at the recent Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, Germany pledged 100 million Euros in aid for helping out Afghanistan.

He said we were pondering to add another 500 million Euros into that, but that had not yet been formally announced.

Regarding the policy of Germany for Afghans who wanted to settle in that country, he said we had to take care of those Afghans first who were at risk after rendering their services for German interests.

In addition, he said, many vulnerable Afghans including journalists, human rights activists were airlifted to Germany.

Read more: Peaceful, stable Afghanistan vitally important for Pakistan, region: PM

Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan constructive especially in German airlift

He said Pakistani government was very helpful in that regard and we praised their facilitation to us by land.

Speaking about relations between Pakistan and Germany, he said Germany and Pakistan had been enjoying friendly and amicable relations since the establishment of their diplomatic relations seventy years ago and there was a scope to further widen these in diverse sectors.

He said both countries had strong bilateral contacts manifested by the visit of German ship to Karachi port last week, a German business delegation currently on visit to Karachi and Islamabad and German foreign minister’s visit to Pakistan lately.

Similarly, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Germany this year.

He said German business persons were looking for trade as well as investment opportunities in the promising market of Pakistan. Despite some impediments, the business outlook of Pakistan was outstanding, he remarked.

He told the interviewer that Pakistan and Germany had robust trade relations marked by volume of three billion Euros. There were also intensive people-to-people exchanges and development cooperation between Islamabad and Berlin.

He said Germany had invested roughly four billion Euros over the years in Pakistan in development aid.

He said aid priority had now been shifted according to requirements of the Pakistani government. Currently, the main focus was on climate change, alternative energy including solar and power production and other areas, he added.

Read more: Must stay engaged with Afghanistan, Imran Khan to Merkel

Avenues for Pakistan-Germany cooperation

Appreciating the steps taken by the incumbent government to make the country greener, Bernhard Schlagheck said Islamabad could be a role model in a clean and green approach to nature and environment. In solar energy production, both countries could enhance cooperation further, he added.

The German ambassador said Pakistan was blessed with ample sunshine and could increase the solar share in its alternative energy mix.

Regarding cooperation in auto sector, the German ambassador said both sides were exploring and discussing further avenues in that regard. In not too distant future, he said, German car manufacturers might enter into the Pakistani market, he added.

Bernhard Schlagheck said we were also cooperating with Pakistan in training the Pakistani youth in learning technical skills.

In addition, Germany had been providing vaccines to many developing countries including Pakistan through Covax, he added.

He said German broadcaster Deutsche Welle had been cooperating with Pakistani media organizations.

He said the DW had some programmes under which Pakistani journalists could be invited to Germany to get further media training.

He told the state broadcaster that German airlines were in consultation with Pakistani authorities to start flights to and from Pakistan. However, no decision had been made as yet, he added.

The German ambassador said people-to-people contacts were very important in development of bilateral relations.

He said tourism and academic exchanges were important as over 5,000 Pakistani students were studying in German educational institutions.

He said Pakistani students could learn German language free of charge in Germany. Besides, the German universities also offer scholarships for international students at various levels.

He said a thriving Pakistani community of 70,000 comprising traders and skilled people was playing a decent role in the development of the German society. This also played a bridge between the two countries, he maintained.

Read more: If Afghanistan introduces Sharia Law then Germany will not cooperate with them: FM

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