Neighbors explore 'regional approach' to handle Afghanistan situation

Pakistan presses for common stance, China says Afghanistan at crossroads of history, Iran opposes foreign interference.

Neighbors explore 'regional approach' to handle Afghanistan situation

Top diplomats of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries on Wednesday discussed ways of adopting a “regional approach” to tackle the evolving situation in the country. 

The foreign ministers of China, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan exchanged views on the latest developments in a virtual meeting hosted by Islamabad.

The meeting, chaired by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, took place a day after the Taliban announced their interim government in Afghanistan.

“During the meeting, views were exchanged on the evolving situation in Afghanistan for a regional approach,” the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Beijing’s top diplomat Wang Yi urged the neighboring states to exert a more “positive” influence, saying that Afghanistan stands at the crossroads of history, broadcaster China Global Television Network (CGTN) reported.

The interim nature of the Taliban government, he observed, shows that the Afghanistan’s future is still faced with “uncertainties.”

Noting that the situation in Afghanistan is moving from “chaos to governance,” Wang urged the neighbors to seize the opportunity, boost communication and coordination, focus on common concerns, and exert more positive influence while respecting Kabul’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, the report said.

Sharing Pakistan’s perspective, Qureshi emphasized the importance of proceeding with a realistic approach in view of the changed reality in Afghanistan.

He said the well-being of the Afghan people must remain the focus, as they had suffered enormously due to prolonged conflict and instability for more than 40 years.

A shared approach, he underlined, would help Afghanistan on its path to peace and stability and would result in enhanced economic integration and realization of connectivity projects.

​Qureshi called for the international community to give top priority to addressing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and preventing an economic meltdown.  

Iran warns against foreign interference

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian reaffirmed Tehran’s commitment to help “fulfill the will of the Afghan people, to establish stability and peace in the country, and to form an inclusive government that reflects the ethnic and demographic composition of the country,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.

The minister emphasized the need for consistent dialogue and urged the neighboring countries to help prevent foreign interference in Afghanistan, according to Khatibzadeh.

The next meeting of foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbors will be held in person in Tehran within a month or two if the COVID-19 situation allows it, Khatibzadeh added. 

 ‘US, allies should learn a lesson’

The hasty pullout of the US and its allies from Afghanistan indicates that “power politics, military intervention and the so-called democratic transformation” they pursued have ended in failure, the top Chinese diplomat said.

The US and its allies should learn a lesson and assume their due responsibility as “initiators” of the problems, he maintained.

“They have more of a duty to supply economic, livelihood and humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people than any other country,” Wang was quoted as saying by CGTN. 

Afghanistan faces grave challenges

Wang said Afghanistan still faces serious challenges, such as a humanitarian crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, adding that some international forces are likely to create “new problems for Kabul through political, economic and financial measures.”

He said China will provide Afghanistan with food, winter supplies, vaccines and medicines.

In his address at the Ministerial Coordination Session jointly hosted by the US and Germany on Wednesday, Pakistan’s top diplomat warned that Afghanistan was on the brink of a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

“We have all seen the reports of famine, food shortages, and soaring inflation in Afghanistan,” Qureshi said.

He said there was “some consolation that the sudden collapse of the former Afghan government has not caused the mass exodus of refugees from Afghanistan that we had feared.”

“But we must be cautious that an economic meltdown does not instead trigger such a crisis. While Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors, especially Pakistan, would bear the immediate brunt of such a calamity, we would all feel its aftershocks eventually. Sustained economic support is essential to alleviate the sufferings of Afghan people,” he stressed.

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