At the invitation of Pakistan, a virtual foreign ministers’ meeting on the Afghan issue was held among the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi chaired the meeting which was attended by China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The agenda of the meeting was to review the evolving situation in Afghanistan to address the common challenges and realise the emerging opportunities to ensure regional stability and prosperity, providing an opportunity to the neighbours of Afghanistan to work together for the shared objective of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, which is essential to forge strong economic linkages and realise the connectivity agenda.
Addressing the meeting, Qureshi said that the developments in the region will have profound implications for Afghanistan, the region and the world at large.
“It is clear that no one could anticipate the recent turn of events — from the meltdown of security forces to the collapse of the Afghanistan government. All previous assessments and predictions proved wrong. Notwithstanding the unanticipated and sudden nature of these developments, it is important to note that the much-dreaded bloodshed has not occurred,” he said.
Qureshi expressed cautious satisfaction that the prospects of a protracted conflict and civil war in Afghanistan seem to have been averted and the much-feared exodus of refugees has also not taken place for the moment.
“The Taliban have announced the formation of a caretaker setup. We have noted this development. We hope that the political situation stabilizes at the earliest, leading to normalcy,” he said.
Qureshi said that during his recent consultations with the various regional countries, important issues related to Afghanistan were identified, including the following:
o Security situation along the borders
o Prevention of Afghan soil from being used by terrorist entities
o Possibility of a fresh influx of refugees
o Containing drug trafficking and transnational crimes
o Stemming any spread of extremist elements
o Challenges relating to Covid-19 pandemic
o Impediments to regional connectivity
Moreover, Qureshi also underscored what he called rich dividends if peace is secured in Afghanistan, which includes the following:
o Secure borders
o End of the threat of terrorism from Afghan soil
o Possibilities of return of refugees
o Economic stability and improvement in living standards
o Realisation of connectivity projects
o Enhanced regional economic integration
Qureshi proposed that in order to attain the common vision of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, the following steps need to be implemented:
o Affirm full support and solidarity with the Afghan people
o Reaffirm full commitment to the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan
o Afghan related issues should have Afghan solutions
o Ensure that Afghan soil is not allowed to be used against any country
o National reconciliation in Afghanistan by underscoring the multi-ethnic nature of the Afghan society
o Preventing an economic meltdown of the country
Qureshi urged that if humanitarian crisis and economic stability in Afghanistan is assured, then peace can be consolidated and a mass exodus precluded.