Qureshi once more avoids calling OBL a terrorist

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi once more on Tuesday avoided calling former Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden a terrorist.

Qureshi, who was a guest on Geo News programme “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath” was asked once more about why it is that he, along with Prime Minister Imran Khan, are avoiding declaring OBL a terrorist, or unequivocally saying that they consider him a martyr.

“Osama Bin Laden is a thing of the past. I am not concerned with the past. You are lost in the past. My focus is on the future,” he told Khanzada, the show host.

Khanzada explained that he was asking for clarity because Pakistan paid the price for confusion in the past when it was said that there is a “dual policy with sympathy for terrorists”.

“I wish to bring you out of the past,” Qureshi said, in response. “My friend, I wish to bring you out of the past. And I tell you, you must think about the future. That future which will impact Pakistan, its economy and its society. We are absolutely clear on this. We are against terrorism,” the foreign minister said.

He went on to state that the premier takes inspiration from the country’s founder, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Qureshi was also asked why Pakistan is giving confused statements, when in the backdrop of the US defence secretary’s words about Afghanistan’s soil being used against the US by Daesh or Al-Qaeda in two years time, such remarks could come back to haunt us.

To this he said: “No, no, no, no. We have great clarity on this. We will never want Afghan or Pakistan soil to be used against a third country. Let alone America, I would never want it being used against any of our neighbours. Not at all.”

“We have great clarity […] We do not and never will support terrorist organisations and will never want for them to gain such power or importance that they become capable of striking the mainland, some other country, or some coalition partner who have done much for Afghanistan.

“We will have to admit one thing. The coalition there invested a great deal [in society]. They have billions of dollars, established institutions, promoted education, taught them governance. Who will want them to come under attack?”

Last June, during an address to the National Assembly, the prime minister had recalled how the Americans had conducted an operation in Abbottabad and “killed Osama Bin Laden — martyred him”.

Even prior to becoming the prime minister, when he was asked in an interview whether he considers OBL to be a terrorist, the premier had appeared uncomfortable in answering the question and said he does not wish to comment.

Qureshi, most recently, in an interview with TOLONews journalist Lotfullah Najafizada, was asked to comment on the prime minister’s remarks in parliament.

He said that the remarks were taken “out of context”.

“He [PM Imran Khan] was quoted out of context. And, uh, you know, a particular section of the media played it up,” he added.

“Is he a martyr? You disagree? Osama bin Laden?” asked Najafizada.

“I will let that pass,” responded Qureshi, after a brief pause.

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