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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Thursday, said that Pakistan is playing a positive role in bridging the communication gap between the international community and the Afghan Taliban through continued positive engagements.

Briefing senior journalists and editors, Foreign Minister Qureshi flanked by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib, and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, about the forthcoming extraordinary session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)’s Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on December 19, bringing members of the world community and the Taliban would prove to be a stepping stone in finding solutions to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

He said that being collective voice of Muslim Ummah, the OIC can prove to be an effective platform to cope with Afghanistan’s situation, adding that the OIC-CFM is aimed at drawing world’s attention towards the need to extend assistance to the Afghan people faced with dire humanitarian situation.

“The world now understands that abandoning Afghanistan is not in anybody’s interest and the international community appears willing to extend assistance to Afghanistan on humanitarian grounds,” he said, adding that Taliban representatives have also been invited to the moot, so that they could also present their point of view.

He said Taliban delegation, headed by the interim foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, would participate in the moot, whereas, Special Representatives on Afghanistan of the United States, Russia, and China would also attend the extraordinary session.

He said that apart from Permanent-5 countries of the UN Security Council, the representatives of Germany, Canada, Australia, and Japan have also been invited. He said that the session would also be an opportunity for the international community to share their concerns with the Taliban, particularly, with regard to the human rights and women rights.

Qureshi clarified that Pakistan is not acting as “spokesperson” of the Taliban, but it only wants to bring the stakeholders to the OIC platform to directly get across their points of view. At the same time, he added that Pakistan is not limiting itself to any particular faction or group in Afghanistan, but it is also in touch with all the other ethnic groups.

The foreign minister also dismissed the impression that holding of the OIC-CFM on Afghanistan was a step towards recognising the Taliban interim government, adding that the focus is only on the humanitarian assistance with the view to bring improvement in the lives of the Afghan people.

He stated that several ambassadors who had served in Afghanistan including Ryan Crocker, former Commander of ISAF Forces General John F Campbell, Commander US Central Command and Director CIA General David Petraeus, and Secretary State for Economic and Business Affairs Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne were of the view that international sanctions on Afghanistan should be reviewed immediately.

Qureshi urged the international community to understand that any chaos and anarchy in the wake of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan would lead to the strengthening of terrorist organisations, adding that any worst situation in Afghanistan would not only affect Pakistan, but other countries of the region including Iran and Tajikistan, and even Europe.

The foreign minister also thanked the initiative of Saudi Arabia being the chair of the OIC to call the extraordinary session on Afghanistan, to be attended by several important countries such as Turkey, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other Arab, and African countries.

He said that the guest would start coming to Islamabad from today (Friday), adding that UN Secretary General was arriving on Thursday night.

In response to a question, the foreign minister Pakistan did not have the capacity to host more refugees and the pressure would be diverted to further regional neighbours including Iran.

He said that Pakistan is already hosting more than four million refugees despite, limited resources.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that 22 foreign ministers from the OIC states, eight senior officials, and other representatives of the member countries had so far confirmed their participation in the conference.

He further stated that around 290,000 Afghans have already arrived in Pakistan after August 15, adding that Pakistan’s economic situation would not afford in case further refugees influx.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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