Pakistan has agreed to continue practical engagement with the Taliban government to encourage the implementation of moderate and prudent policies that can help achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan on a priority basis.
The development came as Islamabad hosted a meeting of extended Troika on Thursday, comprising Pakistan, China, Russia and the United States.
The forum discussed the latest situation in Afghanistan at length, while the leaders met senior Taliban representatives on the sidelines of the meeting.
As per the joint statement issued after the huddle, the four participating states called on the Taliban to work with fellow Afghans to take steps to form an inclusive and representative government that respects the rights of all Afghans and provides for the equal rights of women and girls to participate in all aspects of the society.
Those in attendance expressed deep concern over the severe humanitarian and economic situation in Kabul and reiterated unwavering support for the people of Afghanistan.
The Troika welcomed the international community’s provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and expressed grave concern at the potential for an economic collapse and the worsening humanitarian crisis and a new refugee wave.
It called upon the Taliban to ensure unhindered humanitarian access, including by women aid workers, for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to respond to the developing crisis.
The forum also acknowledged international humanitarian actors’ concerns regarding the serious liquidity challenges in Afghanistan and committed to continue focusing on measures to ease access to legitimate banking services.
The participants condemned, in the strongest terms, the recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and called on the Taliban to cut ties with all international terrorist groups, dismantle and eliminate them in a decisive manner, and deny space to any terrorist organisation operating inside the country.
The participants reaffirmed their expectation that the Taliban will fulfil their commitment to preventing the use of Afghan territory by terrorists against its neighbours, other countries in the region and the rest of the world.
Called on the Taliban to take a friendly approach towards neighbouring countries and to uphold Afghanistan’s international legal obligations, including universally accepted principles of international law and fundamental human rights and to protect the safety and legitimate rights of foreign nationals and institutions in Afghanistan.
The participants recalled the relevant Afghan and the UNSC resolutions, including respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan that is free of terrorism and drug-related crime, and that contributes to regional stability and connectivity.
The summit leaders welcomed the Taliban’s continued commitment to allow for the safe passage of all who wish to travel to and from Afghanistan and encouraged rapid progress, with the onset of winter, on arrangements to establish airports countrywide that can accept commercial air traffic, which are essential to enable the uninterrupted flow of humanitarian assistance.
Access to education
The attendees emphasised that access to education for women and girls at all levels is an international obligation and encouraged the Taliban to accelerate efforts to provide for full and equal access to education countrywide.
The forum welcomed the greater role of the United Nations as a coordinator in such fields as contributing to stability and delivering emergency assistance.
It urged the UN and its specialised agencies to develop programmes to implement the international community’s commitments to support the people of Afghanistan.
The forum called upon the international community to take concrete actions to provide Afghanistan with help against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier today, while addressing the forum, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said it was crucial for the international community to ‘avoid mistakes’ of the past and pursue positive engagement with the Taliban regime to avert economic collapse and civil war in the country.
He termed engagement with Afghanistan important as “no one wished to see civil war and an economic collapse in Kabul”.
“Everyone wants terrorist elements operating inside Afghanistan to be tackled effectively and we all want to prevent a new refugee crisis,” he maintained.
According to the minister, the meeting reflected the common desire to see a “peaceful, stable, unified, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan”.
He expressed confidence that the engagement with the new Afghan government would help consolidate peace and stability, promote sustainable economic development and help constrict space for terrorist outfits operating from and within Afghanistan.
He reiterated that Afghanistan is at the brink of an economic collapse and with international funding dried up, it had become difficult to pay even salaries, let alone pursue development projects.
Qureshi observed that allowing Afghanistan to access its frozen funds would boost efforts to regenerate economic activities and move the Afghan economy towards stability and sustainability.
He highlighted that Pakistan had already taken a number of steps to facilitate the common citizens in Afghanistan. “These include waiver of customs duties on perishable food items to support farmers, provision of humanitarian assistance, facilitation of pedestrian movement, keeping the border open during the pandemic and visa on arrival for medical cases.”
This is the first official visit of the interim Afghan FM since the Taliban returned to power after the chaotic exit of US-led foreign forces from the war-torn country in August.