Engagement with Afghanistan should be enhanced for multiple reasons: FM Qureshi

Engagement with Afghanistan should be enhanced for multiple reasons: FM Qureshi

Islamabad (Web Desk): Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday said that engagement with Afghanistan must not only continue but should be enhanced for multiple reasons.

Addressing the opening session of the 9th meeting of Troika Plus in Islamabad, the foreign minister said that nobody wishes to see a relapse into civil war; no one wants an economic collapse that will spur instability; everyone wants terrorist elements operating inside Afghanistan to be tackled effectively and; we all want to prevent a new refugee crisis.

FM Qureshi said that all of us have common concerns related to Afghanistan and also have a shared interest in the country's peace and stability. And to bring that about, is a shared responsibility.

He expressed the confidence that Troika Plus's engagement with the new Afghan government will help consolidate peace and stability, promote sustainable economic development and help constrict space for terrorist outfits operating from and within Afghanistan.

“Today, Afghanistan stands at the brink of an economic collapse. It is, therefore, imperative for the international community to buttress provision of humanitarian assistance on an urgent basis,” Qureshi said, adding that health, education and municipal services require urgent attention.

The foreign minister said being an immediate neighbour, Pakistan has a direct stake in Afghanistan's peace and stability.

“Located next door, we have borne the brunt of four decades of conflict and instability in the shape of refugees, drugs and terrorism,” FM Qureshi said.

He mentioned that Pakistan had already taken a number of steps to facilitate the common man in Afghanistan.

These include waiver of custom duties on perishable food items to support farmers in Afghanistan, provision of humanitarian assistance, facilitating pedestrian movement, keeping the border open during COVID-19 and visa on arrival for medical cases.

He expressed gratitude to the neighbours of Afghanistan for supporting Pakistan’s call for a regional platform to discuss common concerns and opportunities. The two meetings, he said, yielded substantive and forward looking outcome documents.

He recalled that his visit to Kabul last month, helped understand the new Afghan government’s expectations from the international community.

“It also provided us the opportunity to share our assessment with the Taliban leadership and highlight the international community’s expectations of them,” he said.

“We believe Taliban are interested in engagement, as they seek international acceptance and support,” he said.

FM Qureshi reaffirmed the resolve of Prime Minister Imran Khan to help Afghanistan on its path towards peace, progress and prosperity.