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ISLAMABAD: The “Extended Troika” involving Pakistan, China, the United States, and Russia, Thursday, asked the Taliban to work with fellow Afghans for an inclusive and representative government and also agreed to continue practical engagement with them to encourage the implementation of moderate and prudent policies.

Pakistan hosted the special representatives/ envoys of the Troika Plus to discuss the latest situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan was represented by special representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq, while the US special representative for Afghanistan Thomas West, China’s Special Envoy for Afghan Affairs Yue Xiaoyong, and Russia’s special representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov also attended the meeting.

The Troika Plus meeting comes a day after India hosted representatives of seven nations –Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan on Afghanistan.

Pakistan and China were also invited to the meeting, but both the countries refused to attend.

According to the joint statement issued following the Troika Plus meeting, the extended Troika met with senior Taliban representatives on the sidelines of the meeting, as a high-level Taliban delegation led by acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi is already in Pakistan for a three-day visit.

“In the spirit of the discussion, as well as, building on previous outcomes of Troika and extended Troika meetings, the four participating States expressed deep concern regarding the severe humanitarian and economic situation in Afghanistan and reiterated unwavering support for the people of Afghanistan,” according to the joint statement.

Afghan acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi arrives in Pakistan

The extended Troika recalled the relevant Afghan–related UNSC Resolutions, including respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan that is free of terrorism and drug-related crime, and that contributes to regional stability and connectivity.

They welcomed the Taliban’s continued commitment to allow for the safe passage of all who wish to travel to and from Afghanistan and encouraged rapid progress, with the onset of winter, on arrangements to establish airports countrywide that can accept commercial air traffic, which are essential to enable the uninterrupted flow of humanitarian assistance.

“[The Troika Plus] called on the Taliban to work with fellow Afghans to take steps to form an inclusive and representative government that respects the rights of all Afghans and provides for the equal rights of women and girls to participate in all aspects of Afghan society,” according to the joint communiqué.

It further stated that the participating States agreed to continue practical engagement with the Taliban to encourage the implementation of moderate and prudent policies that can help achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan as soon as possible.

Condemning in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, they called on the Taliban to cut ties with all international terrorist groups, dismantle and eliminate them in a decisive manner, and to deny space to any terrorist organisation operating inside the country.

“Reaffirmed their expectation that the Taliban will fulfil their commitment to prevent use of Afghan territory by terrorists against its neighbours, other countries in the region and the rest of the world…Called on the Taliban to take a friendly approach towards neighbouring countries and to uphold Afghanistan’s international legal obligations, including universally accepted principles of international law and fundamental human rights and to protect the safety and legitimate rights of foreign nationals and institutions in Afghanistan,” the communiqué added.

They emphasised that access to education for women and girls at all levels is an international obligation and encouraged the Taliban to accelerate efforts to provide for full and equal access to education countrywide.

The participating states welcomed the international community’s urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and expressed grave concern at the potential for an economic collapse and significantly worsening humanitarian crisis and a new refugee wave.

“[They] called on the Taliban to ensure unhindered humanitarian access, including by women aid workers, for the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan to respond to the developing crisis,” the statement stated.

Engagement with Afghanistan must continue, Qureshi tells Troika Plus meeting

They also welcomed the greater role of the United Nations as a coordinator in such fields as contributing to stability and delivering emergency assistance, and urged the UN and its specialised agencies to develop programmes to implement the international community’s commitments to support the people of Afghanistan.

They acknowledged international humanitarian actors’ concerns regarding the country’s serious liquidity challenges and committed to continue focusing on measures to ease access to legitimate banking services. The Troika Plus also called on the international community to take concrete actions to provide Afghanistan with help against the Covid-19.

Earlier, in his inaugural address to the meeting, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the engagement with Afghanistan must not only continue but should be enhanced for multiple reasons.

“Nobody wishes to see a relapse into civil war; no one wants an economic collapse that will spur instability; everyone wants terrorist elements operating inside Afghanistan to be tackled effectively and; we all want to prevent a new refugee crisis,” Qureshi said.

He said that all the participating states have common concerns related to Afghanistan and also have a shared interest in the country’s peace and stability.

“And to bring that about, is a shared responsibility,” he emphasized.

Qureshi expressed confidence that Troika Plus’s engagement with the new Afghan government will help consolidate peace and stability, promote sustainable economic development and help constrict space for terrorist outfits operating from and within Afghanistan.

“Today, Afghanistan stands at the brink of an economic collapse. It is; therefore, imperative for the international community to buttress provision of humanitarian assistance on an urgent basis,” he stated, adding that health, education, and municipal services require urgent attention.

He further stated: “We believe Taliban are interested in engagement, as they seek international acceptance and support. It is; therefore, crucial that the international community avoids repeating mistakes of the past and continues with positive engagement.”

Being an immediate neighbour, he added that Pakistan has a direct stake in Afghanistan’s peace and stability. “Located next door, we have borne the brunt of four decades of conflict and instability in the shape of refugees, drugs, and terrorism,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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