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'No possibility of long-term stay in Pakistan of US troops arriving from Afghanistan': Interior minister Sheikh Rashid

By, New Delhi
Aug 31, 2021 01:40 PM IST

"Foreigners coming to Pakistan after evacuation from Afghanistan have been issued transit visas ranging from 21 to 30 days," the minister said.

Pakistan’s interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Tuesday dismissed any possibility of allowing US troops arriving in Islamabad from neighbouring Afghanistan to stay for a longer period, news agency PTI reported citing the minister’s comments to Dawn. Their stay in the country, Ahmed said, “is only for a limited period.”

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (File Photo)

“Foreigners are coming to Pakistan after evacuation from Afghanistan, and their stay here would be only for a limited period. They have been issued transit visas ranging from 21 to 30 days,” he told Dawn. Ahmed's response came after pictures emerged on social media showing American forces at the Islamabad airport, triggering speculations of a possible long-term presence of the Americans in Pakistan.

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On the number of arrivals in Islamabad from Afghanistan, the minister said as many as 1627 people entered Pakistan’s capital city on flights. 2192 individuals, he said, arrived in his country from the Torkham border crossing, while a “small number of people” came here from the busier Chaman border. He described as a “normal activity” Afghans arriving in Pakistan from the Chaman border and returning to their homeland using the same route.

“None of those who arrived via the two borders have been granted refugee status,” he further said, adding that issuing visas to those arriving from Afghanistan is not being misused as a “money-making activity.” Ahmed said, “Normal visa fee is being charged from them. Also, visas on arrival being provided free of coast.”

When it comes to the Taliban, several Pakistani personalities have made remarks that are seen to be in favour of the regime. On August 16, prime minister Imran Khan described the group’s takeover of Afghanistan as Afghans “breaking the chains of slavery.” On Monday, Shahid Afridi, who, like Khan, is a former cricketer, said, “They (Taliban) have come with a very positive mind and are allowing women to work. And I believe they like cricket very much.”

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan for a second time by capturing Kabul on August 15 as the US troops prepared to leave the country after 20 years. The United States ended its military mission in Afghanistan on Monday, a day before self-imposed August 31 deadline.

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