Taliban told to fulfil promises

Mariana Baabar
Saturday, Sep 18, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Immediate neighbours of Afghanistan Friday reaffirmed their intention to promote peace, security and stability in Afghanistan and in the region as a whole.

“The foreign ministers Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia noted the need to conclude national reconciliation in Afghanistan, resulting in an inclusive government that takes into account the interests of all ethno-political forces of the country,” said the joint statement by the four countries after the meeting in Dushanbe, released by the Foreign Office.

Foreign ministers of Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran met on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) summits in Dushanbe to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

All the four neighbours of Afghanistan face common threats and this was reflected in the joint statement which pointed out that given the security challenges emanating from the territory of Afghanistan, it was stressed the need to coordinate efforts to counter threats, especially the spread of terrorism and drug trafficking, in order to ensure regional stability and address legitimate concerns and interests of neighbouring states.

“The ministers emphasised that the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan should be respected, the basic principle of ‘Afghan-led, Afghan-owned’ should be implemented, and the rights to pursue peace, stability, development and prosperity by the Afghan people should be maintained,” added the joint statement.

“The ministers expressed their concern over the precarious humanitarian and socio-economic situation in Afghanistan, as well as the risks of a possible refugee influx in the region,” it said. They stressed the need for restoring peaceful life and economic recovery of the country, and call on the international community to continue providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan on urgent basis.

The ministers decided to continue coordination between Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran on Afghanistan and hold meetings at the ministerial, special envoy and the ambassadorial levels in due course.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan called upon the regional countries to resist any drift towards bloc politics, and stressed pursuing the approach of peaceful coexistence. “Peaceful coexistence and cooperation, not confrontation, should be the main drivers of global politics,” he said in his address at the 20th SCO Council of Heads of State meeting, held in the capital of Tajikistan.

The summit gathered the presidents of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Iran, the leaders of observer states, foreign ministers, and the heads of international and regional organisations. Vladimir Norov, SCO Secretary General, and Jumakhon Giyasov, Director Executive Committee of SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, were also present.

The prime minister said addressing the threats to international and regional peace and security was a vital interest for SCO. He said the fight against terror would not be won if such threats and challenges were ignored, with state-terrorism being the biggest one, perpetrated against people living under foreign occupation in disputed territories.

“In some cases, such extremist and bigoted ideologies have ascended to capture the state power in so-called democracies,” he said. Imran Khan said Pakistan believed that faithfully implementing UN Security Council resolutions for peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes was a necessary condition for peace, and indispensable for creating an environment of cooperation.

Imran Khan said Afghanistan was, rightfully, the focus of attention in view of the recent developments. He said the sudden change of the previous government which surprised everyone; the takeover by the Taliban, and the full withdrawal of foreign forces, has established a new reality in Afghanistan.

He said it was a matter of relief that all this happened without bloodshed, without civil war, and without mass exodus of refugees. “It is now in the international community’s collective interest to ensure that there is no renewed conflict in Afghanistan and the security situation is stabilised,” he said.

Imran Khan stressing equally urgent priorities to prevent a humanitarian crisis and an economic meltdown in Afghanistan said, “We must remember that the previous government depended heavily on foreign aid and its removal could lead to economic collapse.” He added, “This is a moment to stand by the Afghan people, firmly and unequivocally.”

Imran Khan commended the UN Secretary-General and UN agencies for leading from the front in mobilising international support for the immediately needed humanitarian assistance. He said apart from helping in the international evacuation efforts, Pakistan has extended all possible support in the provision and facilitation of humanitarian relief.

“We believe positive engagement of the international community with Afghanistan is extremely important. There is a rare opportunity to finally end the 40 years of war in Afghanistan; this moment should not be squandered,” Imran Khan stressed.

He said it would be unwise at this critical juncture to spread negativity, or indulge in mischievous propaganda, as some spoilers have sought to do, and pointed that it would only serve to undermine the prospects for peace, to the detriment of the Afghan people.

He said the Taliban, on their part, must fulfil the pledges made above all for an inclusive political structure where all ethnic groups are represented. This, he pointed, was vital for Afghanistan’s stability and also important to ensure respect for the rights of all Afghans, and ensure that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for terrorists.

Imran Khan said the history of Afghanistan bears witness to the fact that the country values its sovereignty and cannot be controlled from the outside. “We will continue to support a stable, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan,” he added.