Urgent steps needed to stabilise security situation in Afghanistan, PM Imran tells German FM

Published August 31, 2021
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (2-L) calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (2-L) calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (R) welcomes German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (L) at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Shah Mahmood Qureshi Twitter
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (R) welcomes German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (L) at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Shah Mahmood Qureshi Twitter
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas plants a sapling at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Shah Mahmood Qureshi Twitter
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas plants a sapling at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Shah Mahmood Qureshi Twitter

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday emphasised that urgent steps were needed to stabilise the security situation in Afghanistan and address the country's humanitarian needs.

He made the comment during a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas who called on the premier in Islamabad. They exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan and relations between Germany and Pakistan, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Imran emphasised that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was "vitally important" for Pakistan as well as the South Asian region, the PMO said.

It was important for the international community to remain in support and solidarity with Afghans at this "pivotal moment" in the war-torn country's history, the premier said.

"The prime minister underlined that urgent steps were needed to stabilise the security situation, address humanitarian needs, and ensure economic stability in Afghanistan.

"These would require sustained engagement with Afghanistan," the PMO quoted the premier as saying.

He added that the two countries should work closely for the promotion of shared interests relating to regional peace and stability.

Meanwhile, Maas conveyed cordial greetings from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He informed the prime minister of Germany's views on the Afghan situation and thanked Pakistan for supporting and facilitating the country's evacuation efforts from Afghanistan, according to the PMO.

He also highlighted that 2021 marked the 70th year of the establishment of relations between Germany and Pakistan.

"The two countries are holding a series of events to celebrate this milestone in a befitting manner," the PMO said.

Joint press conference

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi stressed the need for the international community's cooperation for ensuring stability in Afghanistan, as he addressed a joint press conference with his German counterpart in Islamabad.

Qureshi said he had invited the German foreign minister to Pakistan, where he would be better able to assess the situation.

"It will give you a very good holistic view of what the challenges are, what the concerns are, what the opportunities are and what needs to be done in the days ahead," he said, adding that the German foreign minister would also realise during his visit the importance of staying engaged in Afghanistan.

"This is a pivotal moment in Afghanistan's history. The international community must remain engaged. Humanitarian assistance must flow. Do not let the economic collapse in Afghanistan take place," he said.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (R) and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (L) address a press conference in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Shah Mahmood Qureshi Twitter
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (R) and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (L) address a press conference in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Shah Mahmood Qureshi Twitter

The foreign minister expressed the hope that Germany would make the right decisions in this regard.

Qureshi later said in a tweet that Pakistan continued to support a "politically inclusive, sovereign & prosperous Afghanistan, at peace with itself & neighbours".

He reiterated that it was important for the international community to remain "closely engaged" in Afghanistan for the safety and security of its citizens and the protection of their rights.

Key trade partner

On bilateral relations with Germany, Qureshi said at the press conference that Germany had been an important investor in Pakistan and one of the largest trading partners in the European Union (EU).

Qureshi added that there were possibilities of enhancing trade with Germany further and there were many areas where the two countries could develop economic linkages.

"There are opportunities that Germany must avail in special economic zones."

The foreign minister said expeditious German visas for Pakistanis would also be of significant help.

He later tweeted that Pakistan would soon inaugurate a consulate in Munich and was working to establish an Iqbal-Goethe Centre in Heidelberg.

"Bilaterally, we deeply value our longstanding relations with Germany, now in our 70th year of friendship," he further said.

Evacuation efforts

Maas, who arrived in Islamabad for a two-day visit to discuss the unfolding situation in Afghanistan, said that while the Taliban had made commitments and pledges to form an inclusive government, it remained to be seen whether their promises were "reliable" in the coming days.

"It is important for us that all Afghans, even those who do not support the Taliban, feel represented by this government and it remains to be seen whether the Taliban take this into account."

He added that Germany was preparing in close coordination with others to organise charter flights after the Kabul airport became operable again.

"We are already seeing that people are travelling via land routes to the borders of Afghanistan, and we need procedures to bring these people to Germany if they are eligible," he said, adding that he had discussed the subject with Pakistani officials during the trip.

The foreign minister said he would be travelling to Doha and Qatar for the same purpose.

He thanked Pakistan for helping with evacuation from Kabul, adding that Germany stood prepared to support Afghanistan's neighbouring countries that would not abandon it in this time of crisis.

Maas said Germany was coordinating with Pakistan for the evacuation of its citizens from Afghanistan and will continue to do so in the future.

According to Qureshi, Pakistan has facilitated the evacuation of over 10,000 people belonging to international organisations so far.

Sharing this information in a tweet, he added that "Pakistan has been extending all possible support to governments, EU and int’l orgs engaged in evacuation of their personnel from Afghanistan."

Earlier, the Associated Press of Pakistan shared a video of the German foreign minister on Twitter, stating that he was received by Qureshi at the Foreign Office (FO), where he (Maas) also planted a sapling.

Prior to that, a statement issued by the FO on Monday said Maas and Qureshi would hold official talks on the latest developments in Afghanistan.

"Foreign Minister Qureshi will share Pakistan’s perspective on the evolving situation in Afghanistan and discuss ways of addressing its various dimensions," the statement said.

It added that the two ministers were also expected to discuss matters of bilateral cooperation in political, economic and trade, security, defence, cultural and academic spheres.

During the visit, Foreign Maas will also meet other high-level dignitaries, the FO said.

The German foreign minister's visit to discuss the unfolding situation in Afghanistan coincides with the completion of the US pullout from the war-torn country after 20 years.

In recent days, ahead of August 31 deadline for the US exit from Afghanistan and following the Taliban takeover, Pakistan has been emphasising the need for close coordination of the international community for restoring peace in the neighbouring country.

As part of Pakistan’s efforts in this regard, Foreign Qureshi left for a four-nation visit last week to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran.

After concluding the visit, Qureshi, had said that Afghanistan's neighbours were "fully aware" of the situation in Kabul and their approach towards the issue "was realistic".

"I had the opportunity to learn about their views on Afghanistan during my four-nation tour," he had said. "The entire region will benefit if there is peace and stability in Afghanistan," Qureshi had said, adding that the Taliban leadership was also in contact with all the countries.

"The people of Afghanistan have been dealing with wars for decades and want peace. They are suffering for the mistakes made in the past. We need to learn from the mistakes made in the past so that they are not repeated."

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