Prevention of humanitarian crisis, economic meltdown in Afghanistan key priorities, Shah Mahmood Qureshi tells virtual meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Gulf Today Report
Pakistan 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.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday stressed that the prevention of a humanitarian crisis and economic meltdown in Afghanistan were key priorities in the wake of recent developments in the country that saw the Taliban take over Kabul and the formation of an interim government.
Qureshi was addressing a virtual meeting of foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbours — China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — to discuss developments in the war-ravaged country.
The meeting took place a day after the Taliban announced a new government and named Mullah Hasan Akhund, an associate of the movement’s late founder Mullah Omar, as the head of the interim set-up, with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of the movement’s political office, as one of the two deputies.
In his televised remarks, Qureshi said that Pakistan had noted the development. 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.”
Afghan students attend their class at Kabul university. AFP
“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. Qureshi mentioned his conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and stated that both agreed that due to the situation in Afghanistan – that had implications for all six neighbours in the region – increased communication and coordination were vital.
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Meanwhile, the Taliban show "pragmatism" and should be judged on their actions, a top Qatari official told media in an exclusive interview, adding there was "no question" the Islamists were Afghanistan's de facto rulers.
"They have shown a great deal of pragmatism. Let's seize the opportunities there... and look at their public actions," said Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al Khater, who stopped short of announcing formal recognition of Afghanistan's new rulers.
"They are the de facto rulers, no question about that."
The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants to withdraw thousands of troops but only in return for the insurgent group renouncing Al-Qaeda and curbing attacks.
The Afghan president on Thursday praised Pakistan’s efforts to advance the peace process in the region as he reached out to Islamabad for help in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table with the Kabul government,
Observers believe that the nearly 18-year conflict will be the major focus of talks between Khan and President Donald Trump when they meet on July 22.
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