‘Extraordinary’ moot to bring Taliban closer to world: FM
Special representatives of US, Russia, China to attend moot
ISLAMABAD – All the arrangements to welcome the foreign delegates of OIC Foreign Minister’s extraordinary conference in Islamabad on Sunday are finalized and the Constitution Avenue and all the prominent places in the twin cities along the route of foreign dignitaries are decorated.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Thursday said with members of the international community and the Taliban at the same platform, the upcoming Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad would prove a stepping stone in finding solutions to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
The foreign minister, flanked by Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain in interaction with journalists, said by hosting the event, Pakistan is playing a positive role by bridging the communication gap between the world and the Taliban.
Foreign Minister Qureshi confirmed that a Taliban delegation headed by the interim foreign minister would participate in the upcoming moot besides the Special Representatives of the United States, Russia, and China. Apart from P5 countries, the representatives of Germany, Canada, Australia and Japan had also been invited, he added.
He said Pakistan wanted the Taliban to listen to the concerns of the international community relating to human rights in particular. He said Pakistan was not the “spokesperson” of the Taliban, but only wanted to bring the stakeholders to the OIC platform to directly get across their points of view.
The foreign minister said the focus of Pakistan was improvement in the lives of Afghan people who faced conflict for decades.
“We are not limiting ourselves to any particular faction or group in Afghanistan,” he said. He dismissed the impression that holding of the OIC conference on Afghanistan was a step towards recognising the government.
Qureshi said the moot offered a “rare opportunity for peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
“The whole region will benefit if things go right. But in case of situation moving the wrong way, all gains will come to a naught,” he warned.
Qureshi recalled that during his meetings with his counterparts in New York and the recent meeting with the High Representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell in Brussels, he discussed in detail that Afghanistan would be facing a tough situation if the EU did not take any action.
He mentioned that several ambassadors who had served in Afghanistan including Ryan Crocker, former Commander of ISAF Forces General John F. Campbell, Commander US Central Command and Director CIA General David Petraeus, and Secretary State for Economic and Business Affairs Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne were of the view that international sanctions on Afghanistan should be reviewed immediately.
Qureshi said 75 percent of the budget of Afghanistan was dependent on external assistance, however, pointed out that their monetary reserve of $9.5 billion was frozen.
The foreign minister urged the international community to understand that any chaos and anarchy in the wake of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan would lead to the strengthening of terrorist organizations.
“All the efforts and foreign investment of 20 years in Afghanistan besides the loss of innocent lives will prove futile with the rise of a new wave of terrorism,” he said.
He said the situation would not only affect Pakistan, but other countries of the region including Iran and Tajikistan, and even Europe.
Also, the banking system of Afghanistan was not functioning at the moment, due to which overseas Afghanistan were unable to send their money to families back home, he said.
He said the UNDP and other international organizations had warned that in case urgent action was not taken, around 97 percent of Afghans would fall below the poverty line by mid-2022.
According to World Food Programme, he said, only five percent of Afghan households had the access to ample food, meaning 95 percent lacked the essential commodities.
The foreign minister thanked the initiative of Saudi Arabia being the chair of OIC to call the Extraordinary Session on Afghanistan, to be attended by several important countries such as Turkey, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other Arab and African countries.
He recalled that at the one hand the UN Secretary-General had called for resource mobilization for Afghanistan, while on the other hand the country still faced economic sanctions.
He said the advent of winter could aggravate the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
“If the world continued to show apathy towards Afghans, who have already been facing conflict for decades, they will fall victim to the grave situation. People including young children will starve to death,” he said. He said that the superpowers, that claimed to make efforts for the development and modernization of Afghanistan, would be seeing their efforts gone in vain. “This is a clear message that Pakistan wants to get across the world,” he said. “This is a contradiction on part of the international community which needs to be removed on the basis of humanitarian grounds,” he said.
He said the international community may continue to disagree with the policies of the interim government of Afghanistan, however stressed that it should not be at the cost of the humanitarian situation.
He said Pakistan did not have the capacity to host more refugees and the pressure would be diverted to further regional neighbours including Iran.
Information Minister Ch Fawad Hussain said 22 foreign ministers from OIC states, eight senior officials, and other representatives of the member countries had so far confirmed their participation in the conference.
Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood were also present.