Qureshi slams India after Pakistan again denied opportunity to address UNSC meet on Afghanistan

Published August 17, 2021
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and others gather for a UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan on Monday at the United Nations in New York. — AFP
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and others gather for a UN Security Council meeting on Afghanistan on Monday at the United Nations in New York. — AFP

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday slammed India for its "partisan and obstructionist actions" after Pakistan was denied the opportunity to address a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Afghanistan for the second time this month.

India, the UNSC president for the current month, had earlier denied Pakistan the opportunity to speak during the council's meeting on August 6.

In a series of tweets today, Qureshi termed the development "unfortunate" and pointed out that after Afghanistan, it was Pakistan that had "undeniably" been a victim of the decades-long conflict in the neighbouring country.

"At this critical juncture in the destiny of Afghanistan, India's partisan & obstructionist actions, repeatedly politicising this multilateral platform [whose] raison dêtre is peace, speaks volumes of their intention for [Afghanistan] & the region," he said.

Talking about Pakistan's efforts, the foreign minister said the country "continues to demonstrate a constructive role in Afghanistan, including facilitating peace that is Afghan-led and owned among many economic and humanitarian efforts".

He noted that the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul was "working tirelessly" to issue visas and evacuate diplomats, staff of non-governmental organisations operating in Afghanistan and media personnel.

"Pakistan cannot stress enough the importance of the international community to remain engaged and involved in Afghanistan in a constructive manner," he added.

'Most regrettable'

India's decision was also denounced by Pakistan's ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram, who said that Pakistan has a vital stake in the peace and stability of Afghanistan, where the Taliban have now taken control of the government.

"It is most regrettable that Pakistan's request to participate in the Security Council meeting was once again blocked by the Indian Presidency," Akram told reporters after the conclusion of the council meeting.

Read: NSC lays emphasis on 'inclusive political settlement, principle of non-interference' in Afghanistan

The Security Council, he said, has been denied an "important perspective and vital input that could be helpful in restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region".

Ambassador Akram said there was “considerable pathos” in the move to invite the representative of a now-ousted regime of Afghanistan to speak to the council while blocking Pakistan and other neighbours of Afghanistan.

“Ambassador (Ghulam) Isaczai is an esteemed colleague, but the person who appointed him here (Ashraf Ghani) recently, has fled Afghanistan to the calls of betrayal by some of his ministers and army chief," the Pakistani envoy said.

"It is unclear, therefore, on whose behalf Ambassador Isaczai was speaking today," he said, adding, "the assertions he advanced reflected the talking points of the ancient regime or his own personal views. They are not representative of the evolved realities in Afghanistan."

If invited to speak, he said, Pakistan would have told the Security Council of its continuing efforts to ensure a peaceful settlement and formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan.

UNSC pushes for talks

Meanwhile, the UNSC called for talks to create a new government in Afghanistan and an end to fighting and abuse after UN chief Antonio Guterres warned of "chilling" curbs on human rights and mounting violations against women and girls.

The 15-member council issued a statement, agreed by consensus, after Guterres appealed to the body to "use all tools at its disposal" to suppress a global terrorist threat from Afghanistan and guarantee respect for human rights.

"We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan," Guterres told the Security Council.

Read: ‘Unfinished problem’: World leaders react to Taliban's reclaiming of Afghanistan

The Security Council stressed the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan to ensure other countries were not threatened or attacked, and said that "neither the Taliban nor any other Afghan group or individual should support terrorists operating on the territory of any other country."

It called for an immediate cessation of all hostilities and the establishment, through inclusive negotiations, of a new government that should include women.

Stand with women

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. They did not allow women to work, girls were not allowed to attend school, and women had to cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative if they wanted to venture out of their homes.

"We are receiving chilling reports of severe restrictions on human rights throughout the country. I am particularly concerned by accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan," Guterres said.

Taliban officials have issued statements saying they want peaceful international relations and promising to respect women's rights.

Ireland's UN Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason called on the Security Council to stand with the women of Afghanistan amid "multiple and credible reports of summary executions, forced marriage and of sexual and gender-based violence".

"The Taliban have reportedly said that women have nothing to fear from them," she told the council. "Telling the international community what it wants to hear will fool no one. We will not turn a blind eye to the truth."

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called for a stop to attacks on civilians and respect for human rights and freedoms.

Afghanistan's UN ambassador Ghulam Isaczai, speaking for millions of people "whose fate hangs in the balance", called on the United Nations not to recognise any administration that achieves power by force or any government that is not inclusive.

The United Nations has about 3,000 national staff and about 300 international staff on the ground in Afghanistan. Some have been relocated to Kabul, but none have been evacuated.

"The United Nations presence will adapt to the security situation. But above all, we will stay and deliver in support of the Afghan people in their hour of need," Guterres said.

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