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Taliban Have to be More Receptive to Global Opinion, Says Qureshi

by Newsweek Pakistan

Photo courtesy Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Pakistan’s foreign minister urges international community to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets to facilitate chance at peace in war-torn state

Initial statements by the new Taliban government in Afghanistan have been encouraging, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Monday, adding that fulfilling pledges and respecting international opinion is in the best interest of the new regime as it seeks global recognition.

“I don’t think anybody is in a rush to recognize them at this stage and the Taliban should keep an eye on that as they have to be more sensitive and more receptive to international opinion,” he told a group of U.N.-based correspondents in New York, where he is currently leading Pakistan’s delegation to the 76th session of the U.N. General Assembly. “In my opinion, unfreezing the frozen assets of Afghanistan for Afghans may serve as a major step for confidence-building that could also incentivize positive behavior,” he said, adding that this was “not helping” the prevailing situation.

The U.S. froze $9.5 billion in Afghan central bank assets following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on Aug. 15. In the days since, international lenders have also steered clear, raising fears of an economic crisis in Afghanistan that Pakistani officials have warned could provoke terrorism and unrest.

During his media interaction on Monday, Qureshi claimed there had been several “positive” indications during the ongoing transition in Afghanistan, including a lack of bloodshed and civil war and offers of a general amnesty and protection of women’s rights.

“Afghans have faced war in the last four decades so the international community should not leave Afghans alone now,” he said, reiterating that a peaceful Afghanistan benefited the entire region. “If there is chaos,” he warned, “terrorist organizations like ISIS and TTP … will take advantage.”

Noting that Pakistan had been hosting more than three million Afghan refugees for four decades with limited resources, the minister said that Islamabad could not afford to bear the burden of any more refugees. He said Islamabad, like all of Kabul’s neighbors, sought a comprehensive coalition government in Afghanistan. Pakistan believes that the reconciliation process in Afghanistan cannot be completed without the formation of a government that has representation of all political parties, he added.

Pak-Indo ties

Qureshi also highlighted the incumbent Pakistan government’s attempts to secure peace with neighboring India during his media interaction. He recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan had informed Delhi that if it took one step toward peace, Pakistan would reciprocate with two steps. However, he regretted, rather than accepting this offer, India had unilaterally abrogated the special constitutional status of India-held Kashmir on Aug. 5, 2019, further complicating the situation.

“We want peace. Even today, India has an option. If it wants peace in the region, it should stop the ongoing atrocities on Kashmiris and reverse all unconstitutional measures of Aug. 5,” he said.

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