Pakistan to Host OIC-led International Meeting on Afghanistan

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Pakistan on Saturday said it would host a conference of foreign ministers of Islamic countries later this month to avert a humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan.

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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in the eastern city of Lahore that an “extraordinary session” of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation is being held in Islamabad on December 19 at the request of its current president, Saudi Arabia.

He said representatives from the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, as well as the European Union, the World Bank and related UN relief agencies, would also be invited.

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“The purpose of organizing the conference is to draw international attention to a humanitarian crisis that is neither in the interest of Afghanistan nor the world, and can only be averted by collective efforts,” Qureshi said. .

FILE – Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi gestures during an interview at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on March 1, 2020 in Islamabad, Pakistan.
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“We will also try to mobilize international resources because we need them to avert the crisis,” he said.

The United Nations estimates that 22.8 million people, more than half of Afghanistan’s population, face high levels of food shortages due to years of war, severe drought and high levels of poverty.

“Leaving Afghanistan at this stage would be a historic mistake,” warned Qureshi. “Instability can give way to renewed conflict, it can trigger an exodus of refugees to neighboring countries and you. [the West] Also,” he said.

The foreign minister said his government would also invite a high-level delegation of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban to the OIC meeting and related meetings in Islamabad.

“We want them to come and directly share the ground situation and their concerns with the participants. The international community and other countries will also be able to share their assessment with them [the Taliban], We think it can be a helpful exercise,” Qureshi said.

The OIC-led conference will be the largest international gathering on Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country in mid-August after 20 years with the exit of US-led foreign forces.

However, the global community has not yet recognized the Taliban government due to human rights and terrorism concerns.

Washington and European countries have imposed tough economic sanctions on the Taliban and blocked the Islamic group’s access to Afghan foreign assets as well as billions of dollars in development aid.

The sanctions raised the prospect of an economic collapse and worsened the humanitarian emergency. The lack of diplomatic recognition of the Taliban government in Kabul undermines the urgently needed humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

Pakistan has already sent humanitarian aid, including food and medicine, to Afghanistan, as well as promised to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat. Islamabad has allowed rival India to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat in humanitarian aid to neighboring Afghanistan through Pakistani territory.

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