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Statement by the Foreign Minister

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi
Foreign Ministers of Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my privilege to be here today for the Third Meeting of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan.

Our commendations to China for taking the initiative and organizing this meeting. The arrangements and hospitality are impeccable.

As in the previous sessions, we look forward to a substantive exchange of views and crafting a constructive way forward on the myriad aspects of the situation in Afghanistan.

Excellencies,

Pakistan initiated this format last year with a clear realization that neighboring countries had vital stakes, more than any other, in the stability of Afghanistan.

We were of the view that it was very important for the neighboring countries to sit together, share perspectives, and work out a common approach on the post-15 August situation.

It is gratifying to see that this initiative continues to grow and blossom.

Excellencies,

15 August 2021 ushered in a new reality in Afghanistan.

The completely transformed situation in Afghanistan required a fresh outlook from the international community, and particularly from its neighbors.

For Pakistan’s part, deeply affected by conflict and instability next door spanning over four decades, we welcomed the declarations of the end of war in Afghanistan.

We noted that, contrary to earlier apprehensions, there was no bloodshed and that the transition was largely peaceful. There has been, thankfully, no live conflict and no mass exodus.

  • Recognizing these realities, we kept our Embassy open throughout.
  • We facilitated evacuation of more than 90,000 personnel of diplomatic missions, international organizations and others.
  • We stressed to the international community not to repeat the past mistakes, and called for a pragmatic approach laced with practical engagement.
  • I myself visited Kabul in October 2021 to underscore Pakistan’s commitment to a stable, peaceful, sovereign, prosperous and connected Afghanistan. I also shared the international community’s expectations from the new Afghan authorities.
  • To help avert a humanitarian crisis, and strengthen Afghanistan’s quest for a sustainable economy, Pakistan took a series of steps. These included a PKR5 billion assistance package including provision of wheat; increase in the number of commodities being traded in local currency; and capacity building in different sectors.
  • We facilitated international assistance by acting as a humanitarian bridge to Afghanistan.
  • In view of the dire humanitarian situation and a potential economic meltdown, Pakistan hosted an Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) in December 2021. The Session resulted in a number of concrete decisions, including the establishment of a Humanitarian Trust Fund and appointment of a Special Envoy.

In a nutshell, all our efforts have been geared towards promoting stability and mitigating humanitarian and economic fallout as the foremost priorities.

Excellencies,

Going forward, it essential to take a broader view.

While the war in Afghanistan has ended, millions of Afghan children today still face starvation. Afghan hospitals face acute shortages of medicines, equipment and personnel.

Owing to this perilous situation, we stress, the humanitarian imperatives must take precedence over political considerations.

While there may be valid political concerns, the fundamental need is to focus on humanity as well as the well-being of 40 million Afghan people.

I should underline here that the frozen Afghan foreign bank reserves belong to the Afghan nation and their utilization should be the sovereign decision of Afghanistan. We will continue to support Afghanistan’s access to its frozen assets so that these precious resources can be utilized for the welfare of the Afghans.

Excellencies,

Today, in our view, there is a historic opportunity after 40years of conflict to finally establish sustainable peace in Afghanistan. The process could be consolidated by working together in a constructive partnership.

At this transformational moment, the international community has justifiable expectations from the Interim Government on inclusivity, girl’s education, respect for human rights, and effective counter-terrorism action.

It would be fair to leave it to Afghanistan to decide whom to include in the Cabinet. Being prescriptive on this account may not be helpful.

The Afghan authorities should, nonetheless, consider ways to ensure inclusivity in the governance structure and other walks of life.

It is understandable that Afghanistan is coming out of the shadows of a long war. Yet, practical steps including opening of jobs for women will strengthen the Interim Government’s credentials.

We urge the Afghan authorities to keep taking positive measures, including allowing girls’ access to education and promotion of human rights, which would help in further promoting international engagement and access to needed financial resources.

We do recognize that effective counter-terrorism efforts require long-term sustained planning and coordination.

Progress in counter-terrorism will depend on the Interim Government’s capacity and willingness of the international community to support their efforts. Pakistan remains ready to support Afghanistan in this regard.

Excellencies,

It is clear that, beyond the immediate humanitarian question, we need to think of long-term economic sustainability and development.

Until the wheels of commerce and industry are allowed to spin, the lives of the ordinary Afghans will not improve.

The ideas of regional connectivity will not materialize without a blueprint for long-term infrastructure development.

Only viable and prosperous Afghanistan in the long-run is one that serves as a trade and energy corridor for the entire region.

Therefore, promotion of regional connectivity and energy projects in Afghanistan should remain our cherished goals.

In this regard, we support China’s proposal to establish Working Groups on Political Diplomacy, Economic cooperation, and Security & Stability.

We also suggest considering enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation under this format, given our common interest.

We should not create a donor-dependent nation. Our goal should be a self-reliant, resilient economy in Afghanistan.

Excellencies,

It has been more than six months when we witnessed political transition in Afghanistan. While the Interim Government has made headways in several areas, we hope it would continue to move forward. We also hope the world community will keep its part of the bargain.

Excellencies,

The nascent setup of the Interim Afghan Government needs our support in both governance and counter-terrorism capacities.

It is in our collective self-interest to assist our Afghan brothers and sisters stand on their own feet again.

On its part, Pakistan has always, and will continue to, assist Afghanistan in its quest for stability, peace, progress and prosperity.

I thank you

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