FM calls for international solidarity with Afghan people

Pakistan welcomes, appreciates the efforts of the UN to help Afghan people

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Islamabad: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed the High-level Ministerial Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan held today in Geneva in a hybrid format. In his video address, the Foreign Minister called upon the international community for sustained engagement with Afghanistan.

The Foreign Minister apprised the international community about continued humanitarian support by Pakistan in several ways, including by facilitating the evacuation and relocation of international staff, establishment of a humanitarian corridor for the delivery of relief goods, and in-kind assistance by Pakistan for their Afghan brethren through air and land routes. He committed to continue Pakistan’s humanitarian assistance comprising food and medicines to Afghanistan as well as hosting more than 3 million Afghans refugees. He called for international solidarity with the Afghan people, both in terms of financial and political support. He emphasized the need to renew developmental partnerships, support nation-building, and meet the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people.

The meeting was hosted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres with participation of heads of various UN agencies including OCHA, UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA, UNHCR and ICRC. The meeting was also attended by a number of Ministers from various countries including, Switzerland, Qatar, Germany, UK, U.S., Turkey and France.

He briefed, Pakistan welcomes and appreciates the efforts of the United Nations to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

Today’s Afghanistan represents an important opportunity as it begins its journey towards sustainable peace and development. The recurring cycles of conflict and instability during the last 4 decades can finally be stopped.

The challenges are daunting. The situation is becoming dire for around 18 million people of Afghanistan – directly in need of humanitarian assistance. A sluggish response from the international community can cause grave humanitarian consequences.

Solidarity must be shown with the Afghan people at this pivotal juncture, both in terms of financial and political support. It is time to renew developmental partnerships, support nation-building, and meet the humanitarian needs of the Afghan population.

Durable solutions require scaling up of developmental interventions, provision of livelihood opportunities, and ensuring of access to basic necessities such as food, health and education for the Afghan people.

Whilst we focus on the humanitarian situation inside Afghanistan, we must not forget millions of Afghans in large refugee-hosting countries, for whom the international support has dwindled over the years. In line with the principle of international responsibility and burden sharing, host communities must be supported especially during these challenging times of COVID-19. On its part, Pakistan has been supporting the humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan in several ways, including by facilitating the evacuation and relocation of international staff, and establishment of a humanitarian corridor for the delivery of relief goods through air and land routes.

We are already airlifting humanitarian assistance comprising food and medicines to Afghanistan, which will be followed by supplies through land routes as well.

Pakistan continues to host more than 3 million Afghans refugees, for over 4 decades. Over the years, we have also earmarked over one billion U.S. dollars for a range of development projects in Afghanistan.

We reaffirm our commitment today to support the provision of humanitarian relief to the Afghan people under UN umbrella, as well as the continuity of our in-kind assistance to Afghanistan. We will also continue to facilitate the UN in its humanitarian relief efforts by providing logistical and other support through Pakistan. Ensuring sustainable development and promoting respect for human rights require political stability and peace in Afghanistan. And peace cannot consolidate unless Afghanistan is provided the necessary economic and fiscal space.

Past mistakes must not be repeated. The Afghan people must not be abandoned. It is essential to take a long-term view and adopt a pragmatic approach. Sustained engagement with Afghanistan, especially for meeting its humanitarian needs, is indispensable. Pakistan appreciates the leadership shown by the UN Secretary-General on this account, and the UN agencies playing a leading role in ensuring humanitarian supplies.

In his recent meeting on Afghanistan issue, Foreign Minister Qureshi emphasized the importance of proceeding with a realistic approach in view of the changed reality in Afghanistan. He added that the well-being of the Afghan people must remain the focus, as they had suffered enormously due to prolonged conflict and instability for more than forty years.

The Foreign Minister underlined that a shared approach would help Afghanistan on its path to peace and stability and would result in enhanced economic integration and realization of connectivity projects.

Foreign Minister Qureshi drew the attention of the international community to addressing humanitarian crisis and preventing economic meltdown in Afghanistan as the key priorities. The Foreign Minister expressed the hope that the meeting would lay strong foundation for a robust regional engagement on the situation in Afghanistan.

The participants welcomed Pakistan’s initiative to organize the meeting and concurred on the importance of the mechanism of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries to address common concerns and advance shared objectives.

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