China, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Iran hold talks hosted by Islamabad
Islamabad: Pakistan’s foreign minister on Wednesday has called for a “realistic” and “coordinated approach” by neighbouring countries on Afghanistan to ensure regional stability.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was addressing a virtual meeting of foreign ministers from Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries including China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The six neighbouring countries have a direct stake in the stability in Afghanistan and their collective move will be significant to advance the common vision of a peaceful, stable, prosperous and connected region, he said. “We must affirm our full support to the Afghan people and full commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.” He urged that “Afghan soil should not be allowed to be used against any country.”
In the wake of recent developments following the Taliban takeover of Kabul in mid-August, Qureshi said he held separate detailed discussions with his counterparts from the five countries in which they agreed on “closer coordination” to help address the common challenges. The issues that require a coordinated regional approach include border security, prevention of terrorists from using Afghan soil and stemming the spread of extremist elements, the possibility of a fresh influx of refugees, containing drug trafficking and transnational crimes, pandemic challenges and hurdles to regional connectivity.
Pakistan’s special envoy on Afghanistan Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq earlier said that the neighbouring countries agreed that peace in Afghanistan was vital for the security, stability and prosperity of the entire region. FM Qureshi affirmed that for the neighbouring countries, peace in Afghanistan means secure borders, end of the threat of terrorism from Afghan soil, possibilities of return of refugees, economic stability and improvement in living standards, realization of connectivity projects and enhanced regional economic integration.
Qureshi urged the international community to help prevent a humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan so that “peace can be consolidated and a mass exodus [of refugees] precluded.”
Commenting on the swift developments in Afghanistan, he said all previous assessments and predictions proved wrong as “no one could anticipate the recent turn of events – from the meltdown of security forces to the collapse of the Afghanistan government.” The situation remains complex and fluid, he said, but noted that the “much-dreaded bloodshed has not occurred. The prospect of a protracted conflict and civil war seems to have been averted. The much-feared exodus of refugees has not taken place at least thus far.”
As the world is “grappling with a changed reality in Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s foreign minister said the “The new situation requires discarding old lenses, developing new insights, and proceeding with a realistic and pragmatic approach.”
The meeting took place a day after the Taliban announced its interim government. Qureshi said Pakistan hopes that the political situation stabilizes at the earliest, leading to normalcy.
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