Germany and Pakistan on Tuesday agreed to work together to avert a looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
Addressing a joint press conference in the capital Islamabad after a delegation level meeting, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari were of the view that the people of Afghanistan “must not” suffer due to the international community’s ongoing policy of disengagement with the Taliban regime.
“When we look across the border, the situation is dire. The Taliban are leading the country into a downfall. Parents do not know how to feed their children. Girls are deprived of their right to education. Women are almost excluded from participation in public life, and all the dissenting voices are brutally suppressed. The world community should stand together and send a clear message to the Taliban that you are heading in the wrong direction," said Baerbock, who is on a two-day maiden visit.
“As long as they go down this path, there is no room for normalization and even recognition of Taliban as legitimate rulers of Afghanistan. But at the same time, we cannot abandon the people of Afghanistan,” she said.
Along with Islamabad, she said her country will continue to work to mitigate the crisis by providing humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, especially to women and children.
“It’s crucial for Taliban to hear this message. We are facing humanitarian disaster (in Afghanistan) that’s why we continue to provide humanitarian aid,” she further said.
Acknowledging that Germany’s influence in Afghanistan is “very limited”, she said that any kind of economic support to Kabul should be conditional to Taliban's take on human rights.
Preventing terrorism, extremism
Bhutto-Zardari, for his part, said saving Afghanistan not only from humanitarian crisis but also an economic collapse is equally indispensable to create an environment that does not promote extremism and terrorism.
Pakistan, he said, has been facing the brunt of terrorism and extremism from Afghanistan for decades, that is why “we are more eager than any other country for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.”
“I myself am a victim of terrorism,” he said referring to the assassination of her mother and two-time premier Benazir Bhutto in a suicide attack in 2007 in northeastern garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Regardless of “my or anyone’s views about the current regime, we have to work to help avert humanitarian crisis and economic collapse,” he said calling on the Taliban regime to fulfill their promises to the global community.
Hailing Islamabad for hosting nearly 3 million Afghan refugees for decades, Baerbock said “it’s an enormous task that Pakistan is shouldering on behalf of the whole international community. It deserves our solidarity and support."
On the Ukraine-Russia war, the top German official said Russia’s “invasion” is not only threatening the foundation of our international order, but Moscow’s restrictions on wheat exports and capture of Ukraine’s stocks have sent food prices skyrocketing.
Dubbing Russia's war as not just a threat to Europe but for the whole world, she said: “Our world will be a more dangerous place to live if the law of the dangerous applies.
Russia's war, she further said, has set a “dangerous” precedent for the world. Therefore, she added, the global community should stand by Ukraine and defend its integrity through “words and actions.”
Bhutto-Zardari said there is no change in his country’s policy toward Russia-Ukraine war, calling for “dialogue and diplomacy in pursuit of peace.”
“We do not want to be dragged in conflict particularly given that we have just experienced decade after decade of conflict in Afghanistan," he added.
Replying to a query on reports of human rights violations in Indian-administered Kashmir -- a long-standing dispute between Pakistan and India -- Baerbock said: “We support the work of the United Nations in Kashmir to ensure that all the human rights are guaranteed (there).”
A “constructive” approach from both sides, she said, is the only way to improve ties between the two nuclear neighbors, which are locked in a string of land and sea disputes, mainly Jammu and Kashmir.
Hailing the 2021 cease-fire at Kashmir border between the two forces, as a “positive step”, she said: “We expect more steps to follow the ceasefire.”
Islamabad’s foreign minister did not lose the opportunity to condemn New Delhi for “brutal” human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, and recent insulting remarks against Prophet Muhammad by two senior members of the Indian ruling party.
Baerbock and Bhutto-Zardari also vowed to work together to fight the challenges related to climate change.
Earlier, the two foreign ministers discussed ways to enhance cooperation in trade, investment, energy and other sectors.