Tehran, 27 October 2021 (GNP/ TDI): Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, addressed the 2nd Ministerial Meeting of Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan. The meeting was hosted by Iran. Foreign Ministers of China, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan attended the meeting.
Foreign Minister Qureshi thanked Iran for hosting the meeting.
Foreign Minister Qureshi said Pakistan presented the idea of creating a mechanism for the six neighbors of Afghanistan to develop a unified regional approach. He appreciated the countries who seconded the idea and agreed to participate in the meeting.
The Foreign Minister address was focused on three aspects of Afghanistan: political stability, economic sustainability, and counter-terrorism
Sharing his views, Foreign Minister Qureshi stressed the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan. The country’s political structure must respect and reflect the multi-ethnic reality of Afghanistan’s society. He also emphasized respecting the rights of Afghans, especially women. He said women have played a crucial in Afghanistan’s development and will continue to do so.
The Foreign Minister appreciated Russia for hosting the 3rd Moscow Format meeting. He said this provided an opportunity for the interim Afghan government to engage with the international community.
Foreign Minister Qureshi stated all stakeholders must not repeat the mistake of the past at this critical juncture. He urged the international community to stand in solidarity with the Afghan people and assist them in their quest for peace and stability.
The Foreign Minister expressed great concern over the economic crisis in Afghanistan.
He said both internal and external factors have contributed to this severe economic downturn. Internally, there have been droughts for the past two years. This is coupled with a high inflation rate. Externally, major donors have stopped their funding post US withdrawal.
He informed the participants that, before US withdrawal, donors contributed to 70% of Afghanistan’s budget. Now, the country’s economy is shrinking by 30%.
Moreover, the Foreign Minister briefed the participants about Pakistan’s role in uplifting the economic fabric of Afghanistan. He said Pakistan has provided humanitarian assistance in the form of food and medical supplies. It has also revised custom duties on Afghanistan’s products.
He appreciated bilateral assistance extended by many countries. He also welcomed pledges of more than $1.2 billion announced during flash appeals by the United Nations.
Moreover, the Foreign Minister emphasized unfreezing the financial assets of Afghanistan. He added economic downturn in Afghanistan will lead to regional, as well as global, instability.
Additionally, Foreign Minister Qureshi expressed concern over terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan. He said these organizations pose a threat to regional and international peace and stability.
He also asked the interim Afghan government to take concrete measures in this regard. The leadership should ensure that Afghanistan’s soil will not be used to instigate terrorist activities in any other country.
A peaceful, united, and prosperous Afghanistan
Foreign Minister Qureshi hoped that the meeting will bear fruitful results and will forge collective endeavors for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
Furthermore, he emphasized chalking out a long-term road to attain the collective goal of peaceful, united, and prosperous Afghanistan. It should focus on political engagement, economic integration, and regional connectivity. It should also focus on collaboration with international actors that can help in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.
Pakistan hosted the first Ministerial Meeting of Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan.