Pakistan reiterates call for regional peace, economic trade, connectivity
Afghanistan must not be seen through a regional prism, but as a “shared and collective responsibility
ISLAMABAD, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday said Afghanistan must not be seen through a regional prism, but as a “shared and collective responsibility”.
“Instability in Afghanistan will have negative consequences for the entire world,” he said in his address at a seminar on ‘Perspectives on the evolving situation in Afghanistan’ organized by the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East & Africa (CAMEA) of the Institute of Strategic Studies.
The day-long seminar held in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) focused on the situation in Afghanistan, particularly in the perspective of the humanitarian crisis.
FM Qureshi said the emergence of new conflicts did not mean that the world can afford to forget old ones, adding that the wounds of 40 years of war and bloodshed in Afghanistan would take a long time to heal.
“Failure is not an option. If the world community fails Afghanistan yet again, it will result in a fresh influx of refugees, enhanced space for terrorism, and a rise in drug trafficking,” he said.
He hoped that with the help of regional countries and international partners, the proud Afghan nation could once again rise to become an important country in terms of regional peace and stability, economic trade, and regional connectivity.
The foreign minister said since August 15, 2021, the interim Afghan government remained embattled with the humanitarian and economic crises, as well as a liquidity crunch, exacerbated by the lack of a functional banking system.
He mentioned at the same time the positive aspects mainly internal stability, no civil war, the opening of girls’ schools, and the interim government’s commitment to addressing terrorism.
He said Afghanistan currently stood at a critical crossroads as for the first time in over 40 years, there was a single unified dispensation over its entire territory.
The foreign minister said over four decades of war and bloodshed were over and there had been a demonstrable decrease in corruption, leading to an increase in revenue.
He said there was a hope that Afghanistan had the potential to move towards a viable and sustainable future.
“Therefore, the immediate task that the international community, in general, and regional countries, in particular, need to focus on, is the stabilization of the country,” he said.
Qureshi said Pakistan had always advocated consistent engagement with Afghanistan and stressed the importance of delinking humanitarian assistance from political considerations.
“Pakistan believes that continued engagement between the interim Afghan government and the international community would help ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for Afghanistan,” he said.
He said if the international community repeated its mistakes of the past and abandons Afghanistan, the fallout would not only affect our region but will be felt globally.
“Besides the immediate need to avert a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, we also have to focus on long-term infrastructure and connectivity projects in Afghanistan,” he said.
He said in the long run, Afghanistan had the potential to develop as the trade and energy corridor for the region.
“We are working with Afghanistan in following up on key infrastructure and connectivity projects, a facilitative regime to assist the easy movement of people and goods across the border, and to augment the capacity of Afghan institutions,” he said.
Pakistan being a neighboring country, he said, had a major stake in the peace and stability of Afghanistan.
He mentioned that Pakistan established the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan Forum to forge a regional consensus regarding Afghanistan.
“Pakistan has been a key partner in all Afghanistan-centered mechanisms for assisting our Afghan brethren in these testing times,” he said.
He recalled that Pakistan hosted the Troika Plus meeting and the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC-CFM on the situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan also successfully hosted the regular session of OIC-CFM in Islamabad on 22-23 March 2022.
He mentioned that Pakistan had pledged in-kind humanitarian assistance of Rs. 5 billion (around $ 30 million) to Afghanistan, adding that Pakistan was acting as a channel to facilitate the flow of international humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
He said Pakistan had even enabled India to supply 50,000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan by allowing it a transit facility.
He said stability in Afghanistan was critical for the prosperity of South Asia and the wider world.