Anarchy in Afghanistan will strengthen terror outfits: FM

Qureshi warns international community of spill-over effects on neighbours, Europe


APP December 16, 2021
Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi. PHOTO: APP

ISLAMABAD:

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Wednesday Pakistan was fulfilling its responsibility to timely warn the world that its inaction on Afghanistan would lead to a big humanitarian crisis, warning the international community that any chaos in the war-torn country would strengthen terrorist outfits.

In a statement ahead of a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Council of Foreign Ministers (OIC-CFM) in Islamabad next Sunday, Qureshi further warned that if the situation deteriorated in Afghanistan, it would not only affect Pakistan, but also the other countries of the region and beyond.

“Pakistan wants the world to realise that a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse of Afghanistan is inevitable if the world continued to show apathy towards the grave situation,” he said. He added urgent steps by the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank were the need of the hour.

Islamabad will host the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC-CFM on December 19. The meeting, convened by Saudi Arabia, would galvanise the international actors to come forward and extend a helping hand to the Afghan people.

In the statement, Foreign Minister Qureshi urged the international community to understand that any chaos and “anarchy in the wake of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan would lead to the strengthening of terrorist organisations”.

He said the situation would not only affect Pakistan, but other countries of the region, including Iran and Tajikistan, and even Europe. “All the efforts and foreign investment of 20 years in Afghanistan besides the loss of innocent lives will prove futile with the rise of a new wave of terrorism,” he warned.

He said that several envoys, who had served in Afghanistan, including US diplomat Ryan Crocker, former commander of International Forces Gen John Campbell, former US Centcom chief Gen David Petraeus, and others were of the view that international sanctions on Afghanistan should be reviewed.

Qureshi said that 75% of the budget of Afghanistan was dependent on external assistance, however, he pointed out, their monetary reserve of $9.5 billion was frozen. Also, he added, their banking system was not functioning at the moment, due to which overseas Afghans were unable to remit their money.

“Two years of drought in Afghanistan, high cases of Covid-19, and unavailability of salaries for government employees pose a difficult future for the Afghan people, he said, adding that the advent of winter might aggravate the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

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Referring to the warnings from several international organisations, Qureshi said that only 5% of Afghan households had the access to ample food, meaning 95 percent lacked the essential commodities. “If urgent action is not taken, around 97% of Afghans will fall below the poverty line by mid-2022,” he said.

“If the world continued to show apathy towards Afghans… people including young children will starve to death,” he said. “This is a clear message that Pakistan wants to get across the world,” he added, urging the international community to support the Afghan people on humanitarian grounds.

Qureshi said Pakistan was fulfilling its responsibility and had invited the foreign ministers of OIC countries to draw their attention towards the tough situation of the Afghan people. “Pakistan is also appealing to the neighbours that it cannot fulfil its responsibility alone and thus needs a joint action.”

The foreign minister thanked Saudi Arabia – the current chair of the OIC – for the initiative to call the extraordinary session on Afghanistan, to be attended by several important countries such as Turkey, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other Arab and African countries.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said with unanimity in views of Pakistan’s political and military leadership, a national consensus had been developed in the country, calling upon the world to save Afghanistan from the humanitarian crisis.

“Any humanitarian crisis will lead to a new refugee influx in Pakistan, which is already hosting 4 million Afghans. Pakistan does not have the capacity to host more refugees and the pressure will be diverted to the regional neighbours including Iran,” he said.

Earlier, Qureshi chaired a high-level meeting to review the arrangements for holding the OIC-CFM extraordinary session. The foreign minister expressed satisfaction over the arrangements and directed the officials to further improve them.

On the occasion, Qureshi said that Pakistan was hosting the session after 41 years. He added that the conference would provide an opportunity to discuss and find ways to deal with impending humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and bring stability to the country.

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