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No rush to recognise Taliban government in Afghanistan: Qureshi

AP, AFP
Filed on September 21, 2021
Picture retrieved from @SMQureshiPTI/ Twitter

While calling for engagement with the Taliban, Shah Mahmood Qureshi appeared to share the US stance that it was premature to establish formal ties.

Pakistan’s foreign minister said Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers should understand that if they want recognition and assistance in rebuilding the war-battered country “they have to be more sensitive and more receptive to international opinion and norms”.

While calling for engagement with the Taliban, Shah Mahmood Qureshi appeared to share the US stance that it was premature to establish formal ties.

Qureshi, who is in New York to attend the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), said on Tuesday that countries are watching to see how things evolve in Afghanistan before considering recognition.

He said: “I don’t think anyone is in a rush to recognise at this stage.”

The minister said his country’s objective is peace and stability in Afghanistan and to achieve that “we would suggest to Afghans that they should have an inclusive government”. He said their initial statements indicated they aren’t averse to the idea, so “let’s see”.

Qureshi expressed hope the Taliban would live up to their promise “that girls and women would be allowed to go to school, college and university”.

But he said he saw “positives” from the Taliban including a declaration of amnesty and a willingness to include ethnic groups other than the group’s dominant Pashtuns.

“These are trends that must be encouraged,” he said.

Activists and witnesses say on-the-ground reality is different than the Taliban’s promises, with women and girls already being excluded from employment and education even without formal announcements by the group.

Call to unfreeze Afghan assets

Qureshi strongly urged the United States and other countries that have frozen money from the former Afghan government to release it because “that’s Afghan money that should be spent on Afghan people.”

Foreign Minister Qureshi has said Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers should understand that if they want recognition and assistance in rebuilding the war-battered country, they have to be more sensitive and more receptive to international opinion and norms. He called on world powers to unblock billions of dollars in Afghan assets frozen after the Taliban takeover but said it did not expect recognition soon of the new government.

Ahead of talks on Afghanistan at the UN General Assembly, Qureshi said the most urgent priority was averting an even deeper economic collapse of the neighbouring nation that could trigger a humanitarian catastrophe.

“On one hand, you’re raising fresh funds to avert a crisis and on the other hand money that is theirs — belongs to them — they cannot use,” Qureshi told reporters.

“I think freezing the assets is not helping the situation. I would strongly urge the powers that be that they should revisit that policy and think of an unfreeze,” he said.

“It will be a confidence-building measure as well and that could also incentivise positive behaviour.”

The United States froze $9.5 billion in Afghan central bank assets and international lenders have stayed clear of Afghanistan, wary of providing money that could be used by the Taliban.

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the UN General Assembly session via a video link and will outline Pakistan’s perspective on key global and regional issues.

PM Imran’s policy address to the UN General Assembly and the foreign minister’s visit to New York reflect the development of diplomatic relations between Pakistan, its international partners and international organisations, the FO said.





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