October 27, 2021| Press Releases|
Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullahian,
Foreign Ministers of China, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan,
Assalam-o-Alaikum – peace be upon you all.
I thank Iran for hosting the second meeting of neighboring countries of Afghanistan. I would also like to greet my dear colleagues, the Foreign Ministers of other friends of Afghanistan. [I especially welcome Foreign Minister Lavrov to be part of the mechanism].
I am confident that our deliberations today will help further harmonize our positions on Afghanistan and forge an agreed way forward.
Afghanistan has seen momentous developments since 15th August.
It was a matter of relief that the transition was bloodless and devoid of acts of vengeance and reprisals.
Fortunately, there was no mass exodus of refugees.
My visit to Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the last week of August 2021 helped identify concerns and challenges not only confronting Afghanistan but the entire region.
We also acknowledged opportunities for finally ending the war and paving the way for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan contributing to economic development and connectivity of the region.
Pakistan presented the idea of creating a mechanism of the six neighbors of Afghanistan to develop a unified regional approach.
I am profoundly grateful to all the colleagues who welcomed the idea and agreed to participate in the proposed meeting.
Our meeting on 8th September, which yielded a joint statement, laid down a strong foundation for future collaboration through this platform.
I have no doubt that today’s meeting will build upon our earlier deliberations and help strengthen our collective endeavours for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and the region.
Political stability, economic sustainability; and counter-terrorism are critical in the Afghan context.
Afghanistan is transitioning to political stability. The expansion of the interim cabinet in Afghanistan is a step in the right direction.
We have been highlighting the importance of a more inclusive approach to the interim setup in Kabul.
Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic society. Every community has a vital stake and role in the future of the country.
For sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan, this reality must be respected and should be reflected in the political structure.
It is equally important that the rights of all Afghans are fully respected. Further steps are needed on reopening of schools, both for boys and girls.
Women have played a key role in the development of Afghan society. Continued opportunities for them would enhance Afghanistan’s social and economic progress.
As for international engagement, the visit of Special Representatives/Envoys of Pakistan, China and Russia helped convey our perspective to the new authorities in Kabul.
We appreciate Russia for hosting the meeting of Special Envoys of Russia, China and Pakistan, and the Moscow Format meeting last week which also provided an opportunity to the interim Afghan setup to engage with the international community.
I visited Kabul last week with two clear objectives: To listen to them and to share our thoughts and assessment.
I found them receptive to the international community’s key messages and core expectations.
I underlined the importance of taking further steps to demonstrate their desire for constructive engagement with the international community to have an agreed path forward.
It is essential to prevent renewed conflict and foil the designs of spoilers, both within and outside Afghanistan.
At this critical juncture, all stakeholders must avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, maintain positive engagement, and show solidarity with the Afghan people.
The second crucial aspect at this moment is achieving economic sustainability in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is experiencing a severe economic crisis for reasons, both internal and external.
Internally, there has been severe drought for the last two years. The situation has been compounded by a high inflation rate.
Externally, following the Taliban takeover of Kabul, major donors have stopped funding the Afghan government. We must remember that donors used to cater for roughly 70% of Afghanistan’s budget.
The sudden withdrawal of foreign assistance has created a huge gap. Meanwhile, the banks are not operating normally.
Estimates indicate that over 90% of the Afghan population could fall below the poverty line next year.
Reportedly, the Afghan economy has already contracted by 30%.
All this is a recipe for avoidable disaster.
For its part, Pakistan is trying its best to help stem the downslide. We have continued to provide urgently needed food-stuff and medicines to Afghanistan.
We are also facilitating provision of international humanitarian assistance by land and air.
We have revised custom duties on Afghan products to facilitate imports from Afghanistan.
We appreciate bilateral assistance being extended by many countries to help achieve economic stability in Afghanistan.
We have welcomed pledges of more than $1.2 billion announced during the flash appeal by the UN. But we note that the pledges have not been converted into disbursements yet.
The approaching winter is a complicating factor. Good intentions must be translated into practical actions to help the Afghans in dire need.
It is equally important that Afghanistan is allowed access to its frozen assets to reverse the economic downturn.
Our collective efforts can halt economic meltdown. An economic collapse will yield instability, conflict, and a refugee influx into neighboring countries and onward to other regions.
The third important aspect is counter-terrorism. The recent attacks on mosques in Kunduz and Kandhar are a grim reminder of the challenges in the fight against terrorist elements.
Terrorist organizations operating inside Afghanistan pose a threat to international peace and stability.
It is important that we remain vigilant of terrorist entities working against return of peace to Afghanistan.
The Afghan Interim government must ensure that there is no safe haven for such elements and that Afghan territory is not used to harm any country.
We hope the Taliban will take all necessary steps to meet this most important expectation of the international community.
This security concern alone will be a defining element for the quality of engagement between the Taliban and the world.
We must support an Afghanistan that contributes positively to regional stability and promotes connectivity. We must do so while respecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Our shared objective of a peaceful, united and prosperous Afghanistan will only materialize when we join hands and assist Afghanistan.
Towards that end, I propose the following:
• Continue to convince the Taliban to take the next steps, while incentivizing this process;
• keep urging the international community to remain positively engaged and intensify provision of humanitarian assistance;
• enhance our mutual coordination on facilitation of humanitarian assistance to reach maximum number of Afghans;
• ensure more meaningful economic activity, individually and collectively, to aid the development process and help build a sustainable Afghan economy;
• share data on COVID-19 for a common policy on border crossings;
• devise a longer-term road-map to advance the agenda of political engagement, economic integration, and regional connectivity and;
• explore possibilities of forging fruitful collaboration with key international actors that can support the reconstruction and economic development efforts in Afghanistan.
For all of us, failure is not an option!
Last modified: October 27, 2021
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