Making efforts to build 'regional consensus' on Afghanistan, Qureshi tells Chinese FM

Published August 18, 2021
This combination photo shows Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (left) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. – AFP/Reuters
This combination photo shows Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (left) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. – AFP/Reuters

With Pakistan maintaining that the decision to recognise the Taliban regime in Afghanistan should be a regional one, Federal Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi informed his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Wednesday that he would be making visits to other countries to develop a "regional consensus on the evolving situation in Afghanistan".

A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Qureshi shared the details of his upcoming visits with Yi during a telephone call, adding that both the foreign ministers agreed to remain in contact on shared interests, particularly the Afghanistan situation.

The exchange between the foreign ministers comes after China said it is ready to deepen “friendly and cooperative” relations with Afghanistan following the country's takeover by the Taliban.

A Chinese government spokesperson had said on Monday, “The Taliban have repeatedly expressed their hope to develop good relations with China, and that they look forward to China's participation in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.”

The spokesperson had also called on the Taliban to “ensure a smooth transition” of power and keep its promises to negotiate the establishment of an “open and inclusive Islamic government” and ensure the safety of Afghans and foreign citizens.

Qureshi shared with Yi the details of a recently held National Security Committee meeting (NSC), which was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, convened to discuss Pakistan's future strategy on Afghanistan, according to the statement.

In line with decisions taken during the NSC meeting, the foreign minister laid emphasis on an "inclusive political settlement" in Afghanistan, for which he said all Afghans would have to work together.

"A peaceful and stable Afghanistan was of critical importance for Pakistan and the entire region," the statement quoted Qureshi as saying. In light of this observation, Qureshi said, Pakistan had been assiduously supporting the Afghan peace process.

According to the statement, he also acknowledged the significant contributions made by China and Pakistan, as part of Troika Plus, to support the initiative for restoring peace in the war-torn country.

He further stressed the need for ensuring the security and protection of Afghan citizens and their rights.

Qureshi also called for the international community to continue its support for the people of Afghanistan, particularly the provision of economic assistance.

Moreover, the statement said, Qureshi told Yi about Pakistan's efforts for facilitating the evacuation of diplomatic staff, journalists and others from Afghanistan.

Discussing bilateral ties between China and Pakistan, Qureshi termed both the countries "iron-clad brothers" and strategic partners.

"The two countries have a tradition of maintaining close coordination and communication on issues of common interest and significance," he added.

The phone call between Qureshi and Yi is the latest development in Pakistan's efforts to build a regional consensus on the situation in Afghanistan, which has been facing uncertainty and fear in the wake of a Taliban takeover.

The Taliban, after a rapid conquest of multiple provincial capitals in Afghanistan, had made inroads into Kabul on Sunday, against the backdrop of president Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country. The rapid rise of the Taliban astounded the world, raising fears that they would return to the repressive order witnessed during their initial rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

Now, as the world mulls options with regards to Afghanistan, Pakistan maintains that any recognition of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan will be a regional decision taken after consultations with regional and international powers.

Meanwhile, leaders from the West have been reaching out to discuss the evolving situation in the neighbouring country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had received telephone calls from his British counterpart Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday in this connection.

Speaking to them, the prime minister had underscored the paramount importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan for Pakistan and the region. He had also stressed that safety and security as well as protection of the rights of all Afghans was critically important.

He had further underlined that an inclusive political settlement was the best way forward, saying that Pakistan was reaching out to all Afghan leaders for the purpose.

According to a Dawn report, Johnson and Merkel have agreed to remain in touch with Prime Minister Imran Khan on the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

Earlier on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had called Qureshi to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

According to Radio Pakistan, Qureshi had assured Blinken during the telephonic conversation that Pakistan would remain closely engaged with the US and other international partners in "promoting efforts for supporting a peaceful and stable Afghanistan".

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