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LAHORE: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced on Saturday to host the extraordinary session of the OIC council of foreign ministers on the issue of Afghanistan on December 19 in Islamabad.

Addressing a press conference at the Governor’s House, he said the council of foreign ministers is meeting on the issue after a period of 41 years. The last such session on Afghanistan was held back in 1980, he pointed out. “We have also invited representatives of Permanent Five, the EU foreign affairs, relevant UN agencies, World Bank, and other important countries including Germany, Japan, Canada and Australia to evolve an international consensus.”

He said a high-level Afghan delegation has also been invited to the moot. “We have asked them to engage with the council and share the situation on ground in Afghanistan,” he added.

He hoped the Islamabad session would attract attention of the international community towards averting the imminent humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan through resource mobilization. Also, he said, another objective of the session would be to achieve a collective and coordinated approach of the OIC member countries on the issue.

Pakistan to host OIC moot on Afghanistan on December 19

He said the international assessment suggests that 22.8 million Afghans and 3.2 million children may face food shortages and malnutrition, respectively. Pakistan has already dispatched medicines and food supplies besides committing 50000 tons wheat.

“We will also facilitate India on its announcement of supplying wheat to Afghanistan,” he said. However, he was not sure that India would fulfil its commitment, saying the Indian government had been deferring such announcements on lame excuses in the past, including the non-availability of trucks.

He recalled that India had launched #SanctionPakistan campaign when the Taliban had taken over Afghanistan. However, Pakistan defeated this campaign and convinced the international community through diplomatic outreach that ‘engagement’ with Afghanistan would benefit all and the issue of recognition of the Taliban could be taken up later.

The foreign minister said the idea of the session had emerged from a sideline meeting of Prime Minister Imran Khan with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman during the Saudi Green Initiative conference. Both the leaders had agreed to look at the issue through the prism of Muslim Ummah, as Afghanistan is among the founding members of the council. He said Pakistan was grateful to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud for supervising the initiative and developing a consensus in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

“We all have reached the conclusion that abandoning Afghanistan in these circumstances would be a historic mistake,” he stressed.

According to him, the international community had earlier committed a mistake in the past and a repeat of the same might create crisis and instability in Afghanistan. Also, he said, a renewed conflict would trigger mass exodus of refugees again in a situation when Pakistan is already hosting three million Afghan refugees.

Similarly, he said, other neighbours of Afghanistan, including Iran and Tajikistan, are also worried over the existing state of affairs in Afghanistan. “I had also visited Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran under the diplomatic outreach initiative and was able to create a platform of six neighbours of Afghanistan for mutual discussion and consultation,” he said and added that the constructive role of Pakistan was acknowledged in the sittings held in Moscow.

Replying to media queries, he said Kashmir would not be on the agenda of the OIC session, adding that Pakistan will raise Kashmir issue forcefully in March 2022, he said.

On the tragic lynching of a Sri Lankan citizen in Sialkot, Qureshi said he was in contact with his Sri Lankan counterpart and Pakistan government was in touch with the family of the deceased for handing over his dead body. He said Sri Lankan government was satisfied over the prompt response of Pakistan, hoping that bilateral relations would not be affected.

He also termed reports regarding non-payment of salary to the embassy staff in Serbia and Dhaka as baseless, saying that India was behind this false propaganda against Pakistan. The EU Disinfo Lab has already exposed India on how it was maligning Pakistan through fake reports, he added. He warned that India would continue with its ulterior motives in future as well, adding that the password of the website of Serbian embassy has been retrieved and an explanation has been issued to media.

He said relations between Pakistan and China were normal as usual and all issues are being addressed through regular contact.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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