Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (file photo). Photograph:( AFP )
In an interview with Afghan New Channel Tolo News' Lotfullah Najafizada, on being asked "Is he a martyr? You disagree? Osama bin Laden?", Pakistani Foreign Minister SM Qureshi said, "I will let that pass"
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has once again raised eyebrows after failing to term al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden as a terrorist. The comments come even as Financial Action Task Force (FATF) this week decides on Pakistan's continuance in its Grey List for not acting on the issue of terror financing.
In an interview with Lotfullah Najafizada of Afghan New Channel Tolo News, the minister was asked, "Is he a martyr? You disagree? Osama bin Laden?"
Qureshi said, "I will let that pass."
Before that, Najafizada recalled how the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had referred to Osama bin Laden as a 'martyr', while speaking in the country's parliament.
To this, Qureshi tried to make a case of misquoting, saying, "He was quoted out of context. And, a particular section of the media pair it up."
Bin Laden was killed by American forces in Pakistan's Abbottabad. The compound where he was staying was less than a mile away from the country's 70-year-old Pakistan Military Academy. Abbottabad in Northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is itself just two-hour drive from country's national capital, Islamabad.
In the 50-minute-long interview, Qureshi defended the Taliban as well, saying the group is ready for peace and "they have suffered as well’.
The Pakistani foreign minister explained, "if you try and create this impression that the violence is high because of Taliban...that would be an exaggeration."
Pakistan has been in talks with the Taliban as part of the peace process, with its leadership being hosted by the country. Names of various sections of Taliban have been named after Pakistani cities like Quetta Shura, Peshawar Shura.
Asked, "One would also raise the issue of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish Mohammed, are they Pakistan-based terrorist groups", Qureshi said, "We are not supporting any terrorist group."
Najafizada then responded, "Maybe you don’t recognise them as terrorists."
The issue of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan has been raised both by Kabul and New Delhi internationally.