- Ahead of talks at UN General Assembly, Pakistan foreign minister says too early to establish regular relationship with Afghanistan’s new rulers
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that it is too early to establish a regular relationship with Afghanistan’s new interim government, adding that if the Taliban want recognition, "they have to be more sensitive and more receptive to international opinion".
Ahead of talks on Afghanistan at the UN General Assembly, Qureshi also said the most urgent priority was averting an even deeper economic collapse of the neighbouring nation that could trigger a humanitarian catastrophe.
"I don't think anybody is in a rush to recognise at this stage and the Taliban should keep an eye on that," Qureshi said. If the Taliban want recognition, "they have to be more sensitive and more receptive to international opinion," he said.
He maintained that the Taliban will have to show responsible behaviour and should be willing to accept international opinion if they want recognition. "They have to be more sensitive and more receptive."
I don't think anybody is in a rush to recognise at this stage and the Taliban should keep an eye on that: Qureshi
Frozen Afghan assets
The foreign minister also urged the world powers to release Afghan assets worth billions of dollars that were frozen after the Taliban took control of the war-torn country.
"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 said.
"I think freezing the assets is not helping the situation. I would strongly urge the powers 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 behavior."
Qureshi voiced hope that the Taliban would be more inclusive after forming a caretaker government that includes figures blacklisted by the United Nations.
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.
Regarding Pakistan's efforts in evacuating people from Afghanistan, the FM highlighted that despite limited resources, Islamabad extended full assistance in the evacuation of foreign nationals from the neighboring country.
"Pakistan has been hosting three million Afghan refugees over the last four decades," he said. He mentioned that a peaceful Afghanistan will bring stability in the region.
Meanwhile, the minister said that soon after assuming the government, Prime Minister Imran Khan extended a friendly hand to the Modi-led Indian government.
"The PM said if India takes one step towards peace, Pakistan will take two steps. However, instead of accepting the offer, India took unilateral and unconstitutional steps on August 5, 2019, which further complicated the situation," the federal minister said.
"Pakistan wants peace. India has an option. If it wants peace in the region, it should stop the ongoing atrocities in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and reverse all unconstitutional measures of August 5."
Abandoning Afghanistan dangerous
Earlier this month, Qureshi, in an interview to Sky News, cautioned the Western nations of serious consequences if they abandoned Afghanistan, saying any such approach could result in a civil war and economic collapse in the country.
He stressed the need to engage the Taliban. “The disengagement will give space to the organisations we all dread,” he remarked.
“That’s an option of abandonment of Afghan people,” he said, adding such a mistake was also committed during the 90s, urging the international community not to repeat the same mistake again.