World, Asia - Pacific

Int’l community must fulfill needs of common Afghans: Pakistani envoy

Pakistan’s ambassador in Ankara says Turkey can act as ‘bridge between Taliban and international community’

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 12.10.2021
Int’l community must fulfill needs of common Afghans: Pakistani envoy Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi, Pakistan’s ambassador to Turkey

ANKARA

The international community must put the needs of Afghan people “first” and provide what lack the common people of the war-torn country where a humanitarian disaster is looming, the top Pakistani diplomat in Turkey said on Monday.

“Ordinary Afghans and Pakistanis will always face the greatest risks from instability inside Afghanistan, (but) mass migration flows and terrorism threaten the entire world,” said Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi, Pakistan’s ambassador to Turkey.

Referring to the exit of then Soviet Union from Afghanistan, Qazi said the international community also left Afghanistan to its fate in the 1990s.

“Following tried and tested policy of the 1990s will not get us there (peace). It is therefore in every country’s interest to prevent history from repeating itself,” said Qazi, addressing a seminar titled Afghanistan and The World at Crossroads, which was hosted by Institute of Strategic Thinking, an Ankara-based think tank.

Thus, Qazi said, “the international community must put the Afghan people first. We have to take care that in denying Afghanistan access to its foreign reserves or international financial institutions, we do not end up adding to the miseries of the longsuffering Afghan people.”

Afghanistan saw an unprecedented end to foreign occupation after the US-led foreign forces left the country in August, ending the 20-year-old war which saw the Taliban regaining power which has since then established rule over the country.

However, the Taliban administration is yet to be formally recognized by any country.

Qazi said Afghanistan’s central bank merely has $100-200 million.

“Their access to $19 billion of their assets has been frozen,” he said.

‘Turkey’s role very important’

Urging reciprocal engagement with the Taliban, Qazi said over half of Afghanistan’s 38 million people “are in need of humanitarian assistance.”

“One in three Afghans do not know where their next meal will come from. Nearly half of all children under the age of 5 are predicted to be acutely malnourished in the next 12 months,” he said.

In order to ensure a durable peace, the Pakistani ambassador argued that “the international community must determine the means through which development assistance can be provided while ensuring that its concerns about the situation in the country are addressed.”

He warned “wait-and-see approach” by any country would be “tantamount to abandonment.”

Qazi said expectations of Pakistan, “which has been the longest host of largest number of refugees”, from the Taliban government align with those of Western governments.

“Pakistan wants a state that is inclusive, respects the rights of all Afghans, and ensures that the Afghan soil is not used for terrorism against any country,” he said.

The ambassador added that Pakistan has led diplomatic initiatives with Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors and other countries in the region to discuss the way forward.

“Western diplomacy needs to be better connected with regional initiatives to forge a common agenda for engagement and decide on the multilateral and bilateral avenues available to channel assistance,” said Qazi, urging a “coordinated global approach” to reduce “risks of international divisions over how best to engage the Taliban.”

Pointing to Turkey, the Pakistani ambassador called Ankara’s role in Afghanistan “very, very important.”

“Turkey’s role has three layers: Ankara has old, historic relations with Afghanistan. It can help assist Afghans to deal with current humanitarian crisis; help them understand expectations of international community and can act as interlocutor between international community and the Taliban,” Qazi explained, adding Turkey enjoys “greater credibility and acceptability among Afghans.”

He said Turkey is in a better position to “provide much needed technical assistance in managing the airport and running traffic system.”

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