Prevent humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan: Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Qureshi floated the idea of inviting the new rulers in Kabul to future gatherings.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday suggested inviting Taliban-run Afghanistan to a regional forum of six countries to help avert a humanitarian and economic crisis in the country.
Speaking at a virtual conference that brought together neighbours Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and Turkmenistan to discuss Afghan strategy, Qureshi floated the idea of inviting the new rulers in Kabul to future gatherings.
“I also suggest that we may give consideration to the idea to invite Afghanistan in future,” Qureshi said.
“Participation of Afghanistan will augment this forum’s effectiveness in pursuing our shared objectives for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
An opening statement at the conference said the neighbours agreed on closer cooperation to avert a looming humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan.
The United Nations has said basic services are unravelling in Afghanistan, with food and other aid about to run out. More than half a million people have been displaced internally this year.
“In the wake of recent developments, the key priorities are to prevent a humanitarian crisis that can exacerbate the suffering of the Afghans,” Qureshi said in a live telecast, reading from a statement. “Equally important is to take steps to prevent economic meltdown in the country.”
Afghanistan’s neighbours would require a coordinated approach to cope with challenges stemming from the regime change in Kabul after US and Nato forces left, the statement said.
It said those challenges included border security, preventing Afghan soil from being used as a base for terrorism and a possible influx of refugees.
In his address Qureshi called for an enhanced international community’s engagement to prevent a humanitarian crisis and economic meltdown in Afghanistan.
He added that since Kabul’s takeover by the Taliban, “much dreaded bloodshed has not occurred”, and the prospect of a protracted conflict and civil war seems to have been averted. Qureshi said that so far, a much-feared exodus of refugees has also not taken place.
The situation remains complex and fluid in Afghanistan however and it “requires discarding old lenses, developing new insights, and proceeding with a realistic and pragmatic approach”.
The foreign minister said that renewed diplomatic and international presence in the country would reassure the Afghan people. The urgent provision of humanitarian assistance, with UN and its various agencies playing a lead role, would reinforce the process of confidence-building.
Qureshi hoped for an early stabilisation of the political situation in Afghanistan, saying this would lead to normalcy. He stressed that the new situation required discarding old lenses, developing new insights, and proceeding with a realistic and pragmatic approach.
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