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Qureshi Reiterates Call for World to Continue Engaging with Taliban

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. Fabrice Coffrini—AFP

Pakistan’s foreign minister claims sustainable development, promotion of human rights requires Afghanistan to be peaceful, economically sound

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday reiterated his calls for the international community to continue engaging with the Taliban and release Afghanistan’s funds, claiming this is essential to ensuring peace and promoting human rights.

“Solidarity must be shown with the Afghan people at this pivotal juncture, both in terms of financial and political support,” he told a high-level ministerial meeting on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan via video-link. “It is time to renew developmental partnerships, support nation-building, and meet the humanitarian needs of the Afghan population,” he said at the gathering, which was hosted by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres and attended by the heads of various agencies, including UNICEF, UNHCR and OCHA, and the foreign ministers of several countries.

Stressing that the economic crisis in Afghanistan was nearing a tipping point, Qureshi said the challenges were mounting. “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,” he said, adding that the world needed to help ensure that Afghans had access to basic necessities such as food, health and education.

“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,” he said, suggesting that granting the Taliban access to funds frozen by the U.S. could boost the chances of the group guaranteeing human rights.

The U.S., within days of the Taliban taking control of Kabul on Aug. 15, froze $9 billion of Afghan assets, claiming it would wait to see if the group fulfilled its pledges to respect human rights and establish an inclusive government. Global lenders World Bank and the International Monetary Fund soon followed, raising fears of an impending economic crisis, as the Taliban warn that they would soon have no money to pay the salaries of government employees.

Following the Taliban’s announcement of an “interim” cabinet last week, there are growing concerns that the group has no desire to adhere to its pledges, with the U.S. in particular stressing that the setup was not “inclusive” and mainly comprised senior leaders of the Taliban. Despite this, Islamabad keeps urging the global community to provide the Taliban with funds that would prevent it from once again becoming a haven for militant groups.

In his statement, Qureshi called on the world to recognize that countries like Pakistan were still hosting millions of Afghan refugees and would also be continuing its humanitarian support. “We reaffirm our commitment today to support the provision of humanitarian relief to the Afghan people under the U.N. umbrella, as well as the continuity of our in-kind assistance to Afghanistan,” he said.

“We will also continue to facilitate the U.N. in its humanitarian relief efforts by providing logistical and other support through Pakistan,” he added.

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