ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the Netherlands, on Wednesday emphasised the need for formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan where representations of all the ethnic groups are ensured and rights of women, youth, and minorities are respected.

The two sides held bilateral talks on the eve of Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag’s visit to Pakistan, in which she led her country’s delegation, while Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi led Pakistan’s delegation.

Speaking at a joint news conference after the meeting, Sigrid Kaag said that they held extensive and open conversations on all the issues where both the sides are like-minded and on those issues that seek solutions.

“We enjoy long standing ties. We have excellent bilateral and economic relations. The purpose of this visit was also to strengthen and deepen that [ties], and reinforce the strong relations that we already have,” she stated.

She said they spoke at length on the Afghanistan situation and the implications for the Afghan people as well as for Pakistan itself.

“We are mindful and grateful of the longstanding role Pakistan has played in hosting the large number of Afghan refugees over the years,” she added.

She also lauded Pakistan’s important role and “standing as a very important player in the region.”

She said that her country would continue to keep focus on Afghanistan, adding that The Netherlands is a long-time contributor and development partner in Afghanistan. “We would continue to do so. We are very mindful to focus on the humanitarian needs,” she said, adding that annually her country contributes 50 to 60 million Euros to Afghanistan.

“We would continue to do so through the UN and the non-governmental organisations (NGOs),” she said, adding that her country is mindful of the fact that humanitarian needs are growing particularly at this time.

She added that the foreign minister of the EU would meet on Friday to assess the situation in Afghanistan and “hopefully put together a new strategy about how to deal a possible risk of terror and to form a strategy to focus on humanitarian needs and to ensure that needs of the people of Afghanistan – women and girls, ethnic minorities, young men and women, that they are met and also to look into the fact to achieve the sustainable development agenda.”

She said that the EU foreign ministers would also contemplate upon the future immigration crisis.

She said that the EU foreign ministers would also explore the ways to assist Pakistan in its role as the hosting nation of the refugees.

“We also want to invest and make use of the continuously growing and improving investor climate to attract business in Pakistan,” she said, adding that the Netherlands is also keen to invest in Pakistan to assist job growth in the country.

On Afghanistan, she said that she agreed with Foreign Minister Qureshi that an inclusive political agreement would be necessary and it would be the best chance for a stable Afghanistan and for the sustainable future for all Afghans.

“We need to focus on the needs of the Afghan people…stability of Afghanistan and the region is very much dependent on the steps that we would take,” she added.

To a question, she said that the Dutch embassy is relocated to Doha temporarily.

She said that Dutch authorities also held talks with the Taliban in Doha aimed at seeing as to what the Taliban position is other than their public statements.

When asked if the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) pilots are capable enough to airlift European countries citizens from Afghanistan in the evacuation process then why the EU has continued its ban on the PIA flights to the EU, she said that she was not an aviation expert, but termed the question as “very important”.

In his remarks, Foreign Minister Qureshi urged the international community to remain conscious of the humanitarian assistance and prevent an economic collapse in Afghanistan.

He said that the evacuation has almost been done and we will facilitate further, if there are some people who want to leave Afghanistan.

“We are looking at the next phase that what kind of government is formed in Afghanistan, how inclusive it is and how we react to it,” Qureshi said, adding that both Pakistan and the Netherlands share convergence of views on many issues.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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