Pakistan strongly deplored allegations made on Friday by Afghan and Indian diplomats that terrorists use its territory as a safe haven, saying the country’s border with Afghanistan has been fenced and there is no free flow of people. “We would never allow our soil to be used to destabilize Afghanistan and expect the same from Afghanistan,” Ambassador Munir Akram told a press conference hours after the UN Security Council discussed the situation in the war-torn country. At his press conference, Ambassador Akram also criticized India, the council president for the month of August, for denying Pakistan an opportunity to address the Security Council as a neighbouring country with a direct stake in peace in Afghanistan. “We made a formal request for participation but it was denied,” he told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York. “Obviously, we do not expect fairness from the Indian presidency for Pakistan.” Pakistan’s complete statement on the situation in Afghanistan will be will be circulated to the UNSC members, he said. Rejecting allegations about safe havens and sanctuaries as well as cross-borders movements of Taliban fighters as ‘mere fantasies’, the Pakistani envoy said, “Pakistan has eliminated terrorist groups from its soil. There are no safe havens in Pakistan. Terrorism possesses a huge challenge to Afghanistan, to its neighbouring countries, particularly Pakistan.” He urged the international community to prevent the Afghan territory from being used by Al Qaeda, Da’esh and other international terrorist groups like Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) to carry out attacks against any country. “Pakistan is especially concerned at the support being provided to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Jamat ul Ahrar (JuA) by a third country,” he said, adding, “So, the shoe is now is on the other foot.” Ambassador Akram also slammed regional ‘spoilers’ who he said were attempting to derail the Afghan peace process that Pakistan had facilitated. He warned against spoilers, “both within and outside Afghanistan” against their machinations to promote their vested interests. “Some are thus taking intransigent positions in negotiations. Some informally have become isolated from the realities and explain their plight by blaming others. Then there are spoilers outside who do not want a political settlement.” The Pakistani envoy said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had consistently called for a political solution as the only way to restore durable peace and security in Afghanistan. “Pakistan therefore welcomed the international consensus which has emerged that the best means of securing peace and stability is through a political solution negotiated between parties to the conflict,” he said. Pakistan has made earnest efforts to promote such a political settlement, Ambassador Akram said, pointing out that in 2015, a political settlement was scuttled by the deliberate revelation of the demise of the then Taliban leader – Mullah Omar. Pakistan, he said, was instrumental in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table in 2019, and facilitated the conclusion of the US-Taliban agreement of February 2020. “We helped to convene the intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha in September 2020,” he said while highlighting Pakistan’s role in the peace process. Pakistan, he said, also joined the Troika – China, Russia and the US – to facilitate the intra-Afghan talks and the Doha process. “It was a common presumption that the withdrawal of foreign forces would be accompanied by steps towards an intra-Afghan political settlement,” but the decision to divorce the two processes changed the parameters of the negotiating process and created disincentive for both Afghan parties to seek a compromise required for a political settlement. “We strongly believe that any military takeover or imposition by force of a government in Afghanistan will further aggravate and prolong the conflict.” Pakistan, therefore, calls on the Afghan parties to eschew a military solution; to protect innocent civilian lives including women; and children, and to engage in serious negotiations to realize a durable political settlement.