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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan stepped up efforts for hosting the forthcoming “Extraordinary Session” of the Council of Foreign Ministers (OIC-CFM) of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on the situation in Afghanistan on December 17 amid a potential economic collapse that could lead to a humanitarian tragedy as well as a mass exodus of refugees.

Towards this end, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood held a briefing for the Islamabad-based OIC Heads of Mission, Wednesday, on the proposed “Extraordinary Session” of the OIC-CFM) on the situation in Afghanistan, according to Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad.

He said that the foreign secretary informed that on 29 November, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – in its capacity as the Chair of the Summit of the OIC – took the initiative to propose the convening of an “Extraordinary Session” of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, relating to the situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan welcomed this initiative and offered to host the CFM in Islamabad on 17 December 2021.

Mahmood underscored that this “Extraordinary Session” was aimed at addressing the serious and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. He highlighted that according to the United Nations (UN), 60 percent of Afghanistan’s 38 million people faced “crisis levels of hunger” and that the situation was getting worse every day. The risk of acute malnutrition, especially among women and children, was increasing in addition to internal displacement, he added.

The foreign secretary further stressed that a potential economic collapse could not be ruled out.

“This would not only be a humanitarian tragedy but also exacerbate the security situation, spur instability, and lead to a mass exodus of refugees. This would have grave consequences for international peace and stability,” he added.

He emphasised that as the collective voice of the Islamic Ummah, “the OIC can and must play its part in helping address the urgent humanitarian and economic needs of our Afghan brethren.”

In addition, the foreign secretary underlined, the OIC’s leadership could help galvanize other international actors to come forward and extend a helping hand to the Afghan people currently in dire need of international support and solidarity.

A day earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi welcomed the Saudi Arabia’s announcement with regard to the “Extraordinary Session” of the OIC-CFMs to discuss the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and also offered Pakistan’s willingness to host it on December 17 in Islamabad.

“We are confident that OIC member states will endorse this offer,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a video statement on Tuesday.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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