Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held his first face-to-face meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York on Thursday and asked Washington not to repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan.
The meeting held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session and came amid concerns that the relationship between Pakistan and the US may see a dip after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In the meeting, according to Qureshi, the two sides discussed Pakistan’s desire to have broad-based ties covering trade, investment, energy and regional connectivity. He said that close engagement between Pakistan and the US had always been mutually beneficial and a factor for stability in South Asia.
At a recent testimony before the US Congress, Secretary Blinken had said that Washington would reassess Pakistan’s role it played in the last 20 years in Afghanistan and what role his country wanted it to play in the future.
The foreign minister also told Secretary Blinken that Pakistan was committed to facilitating inclusive political settlement of Afghanistan.
Using his twitter handle, Qureshi said he shared with Secretary Blinken the importance of international community holding the Taliban to their commitments; also for the same community to recognise moral obligation to help the Afghan people with growing humanitarian crisis.
“The world should not repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan,” he stressed.
Pakistan is worried that the US may commit the same mistake as it did after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Islamabad feels such an approach would be catastrophic as this would not lead to the humanitarian crises but also allow terrorist outfits to regroup, posing threat to the regional and the world.
Pakistan along with China and Russia are also pushing for the unfreezing of foreign reserves of Afghanistan. But the US is unlikely to heed the call as it wants to use the reserves as leverage over the Taliban.
A Foreign Office statement said Qureshi stressed that only a stable and broad-based government in Afghanistan, which reflected its diversity and preserved the gains made by the country since 2001, would be able to ensure that Afghan territory was never exploited by transnational terrorist groups ever again.
Qureshi noted that a new political reality had emerged in Afghanistan. While the Taliban should be held to their commitments, the international community has a moral obligation to help the Afghan people deal with the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. He hoped that the world would not repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan.
The foreign minister highlighted the grave human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He underscored the importance of resolving the Kashmir dispute for lasting peace and stability in South Asia.
Secretary Blinken appreciated Pakistan’s support for the evacuation of US citizens and other nationals from Afghanistan, and its continued efforts for peace in the region.
Earlier, the foreign minister, who is heading the Pakistani delegation at the 76th session of the UNGA, also met his counterparts from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and several other countries, besides heads of international organisations.
During the meetings, several international issues of mutual concern, particularly the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, besides bilateral matters came under discussion, according to separate statements issued by the Foreign Office in Islamabad.
The foreign minister underscored the importance of sustained international engagement to support lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. He also called for the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
“Qureshi thanked Foreign Minister [Mevlut] Cavusoglu [of Turkey] for the support extended by the government and people of Turkey to the Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination, especially by President Erdogan including it in his address to the UNGA session this year,” the Foreign Office said.
Talking to Foreign Minister Dr Anze Logar of Slovenia and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg of Austria, Qureshi also discussed the Afghan situation besides cooperation in the framework of the European Union (EU), and bilateral relations.
He felicitated Slovenia on assuming the Presidency of the EU Council. He handed over to both the foreign ministers a comprehensive dossier on India’s grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in IIOJK.
Afghanistan also figured prominently during the foreign minister’s meetings with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer.
The foreign minister urged the world community to provide support to the large Afghan refugee hosting countries in line with the principle of international responsibility and burden sharing.
During the separate meetings, Grandi and Maurer briefed Qureshi about their recent visits to Afghanistan their assessment of the situation on the ground and the urgent humanitarian needs of Afghan people.
Uniting for Consensus
The foreign minister also attended an important ministerial meeting of the Uniting for Consensus (UfC) and assured the group members that Pakistan would continue to play an active role to promote a comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council.
The UfC, formed by Italy Pakistan, Mexico and Egypt, in 1995, now has 50 members, who reject the proposal to increase the number of permanent members of the Security Council, instead desiring to encourage the expansion of non-permanent seats.
“UfC’s principled stance on the reform issue offers the only practical solution to the reform of the [Security] Council,” Qureshi said. “Pakistan strongly supports Saudi Arabia’s interest in joining the UfC and will be happy to welcome it as a member.”
(WITH INPUT FROM AGENCIES)
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