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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Friday, urged the international community to recognise the new reality in Afghanistan and engage with the Taliban’s interim set-up for peace and stability in the war-ravaged country.

Speaking at a joint press stakeout along with his Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Albares after delegation-level talks here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qureshi warned that isolating Afghanistan will have serious consequences and will not be helpful for the Afghan people, the region and the world at large.

He said the approach of intimidation, pressure and coercion has not worked and we got to adopt a new positive approach regarding Afghanistan.

Qureshi underscored that the international community must remain engaged and that the people of Afghanistan should not be abandoned.

“There is a need to urgently provide assistance to ward off a humanitarian crisis and to take steps to ensure economic stability. In this regard, releasing Afghanistan’s financial assets was also a necessary measure,” he added.

He stated that Pakistan as an immediate neighbour of Afghanistan had paid immense price because of prolonged conflict and instability next door. As such, peace and stability in Afghanistan were in the best interest of Pakistan. He hoped that the new dispensation in Afghanistan will undertake concerted efforts for peace and security and work towards taking care of humanitarian and development needs of the Afghan people.

Alluding to the flight from Kabul to Doha, he said this safe passage is in sync with the demand of the Europeans. He said we need to encourage the Taliban to stay on course.

The foreign minister regretted that the spoilers did not allow the intra-Afghan dialogue reach a conclusion.

He said if there had been progress on talks, things would have been calmer today.

However, he said that the world community should immediately focus on averting a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. He expressed satisfaction that a conference is taking place in Geneva to raise funds for the country.

He said that Pakistan is contributing in its own way. One of our aircrafts landed in Afghanistan on Thursday with supplies of food and medicines.

He said Pakistan will continue to extend humanitarian assistance through air and land routes.

The foreign minister reiterated the call on the international community to take steps to avert economic collapse of Afghanistan. One of the ways is availability of resources and promoting economic activities, he said, and suggested the decision of freezing the Afghan funds will not be helpful and be revisited.

On bilateral relations with Spain, Qureshi said that there are great opportunities for cooperation between the two countries in various fields. Given the changed security situation in Pakistan, he urged the Spanish counterpart to review the travel advisory.

Asked as to why the world community is not going to recognise Taliban’s government, Qureshi said that as per his interaction with a number of foreign ministers of various countries, it appeared that people are not in a hurry and they are watching the situation.

“They are waiting and looking at the unfolding event in Afghanistan. They haven’t shut their minds, they are open and saying our decisions will be based on your [Taliban] policies and actions. They have announced benchmarks and I am sure that they will measure them according to benchmarks that the EU has illustrated…at the same time, there is recognition of the new reality, an awareness that engagement is required and dialogue for a better understanding can be useful. So, I see an interest and desire to engage and not a rush to recognise,” he added.

In his remarks, the Spanish foreign minister said Pakistan is a very important partner for his country and the European Union.

He said as both countries celebrate 70 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations, this is an excellent opportunity for us to re-energise the bilateral relationship.

He expressed the strong desire to work closely with Pakistan and other regional countries to help the Afghan people.

He said both Pakistan and Spain want stability, peace in Afghanistan and no spillover effect to the region.

He said we want the humanitarian assistance reach the Afghan people.

He said a donor conference on Afghanistan will be held, on Monday, where the pledges will be made.

He said our agencies are ready to help the Afghan people.

To question halting the Afghanistan’s aid by the IMF and the World Bank, the Spanish foreign minister declined to comment on decision taken by the international monetary organisations.

However, he said that his visit to Pakistan was aimed at giving stability to Afghanistan and ensure that the Afghan population receive the humanitarian assistance, adding that it was also aimed at making sure that there is no spillover impact of the Afghan situation on the region, and to ensure respect of human rights.

“That’s the spirit that I wanted to engage with the minister [Qureshi] in Pakistan and to engage in the discussion, because this is not an effort by a single country, it’s the effort of the region and the international community,” he added.

To another query about the human rights violations in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Spanish foreign minister said that human rights and women rights in any region are important for his country.

A press release of the Foreign Office issued after the bilateral talks, stated that Foreign Minister Albares appreciated Pakistan’s role in facilitation of international evacuation endeavours.

He agreed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was key to regional peace, stability, and prosperity.

He lauded Pakistan’s efforts in promoting these objectives.

The two foreign ministers discussed the entire gamut of Pakistan-Spain relations including cooperation in political, economic, trade, energy, and defence sectors.

They agreed on enhancing relations in all fields and stressed the importance of regular high-level exchanges.

Foreign Minister Albares also appreciated the positive contributions of Pakistani community in Spain.

Foreign Minister Albares invited the foreign minister to undertake a visit to Spain.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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