ISLAMABAD: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani speaks next to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during the press conference.—Reuters
ISLAMABAD: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani speaks next to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during the press conference.—Reuters

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Qatar on Thursday urged the international community not to make humanitarian aid for Afghanistan conditional and unfreeze financial assets belonging to the war-ruined country.

The call was made by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani at a press conference after their talks.

“I appreciated what the foreign minister said in our delegation-level talks and he said on the issue of humanitarian crisis there should be no strings attached, there should be no political conditions attached to avoid that humanitarian crisis and that’s a very big statement that you have made and I’m completely in agreement with you,” Foreign Minister Qureshi said.

Mr Al-Thani said: “Humanitarian situation and humanitarian assistance should be independent from any political progress because we believe that the Afghan people deserve to be helped, deserve to be supported despite what’s happening in the political landscape.”

International community urged not to take steps that would lead to economic collapse of war-torn country

Several western countries have recently expressed their desire to provide assistance to the people of Afghanistan, but have linked it to the formation of an inclusive government, provision of a permissive environment for humanitarian work, permission for threatened Afghans to leave and preventing terrorist groups from using Afghan soil.

The western countries have, moreover, said that the assistance funds allocated for Afghanistan and the relief goods would be channeled through aid groups working there instead of new Taliban regime.

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is rapidly becoming dire because of shortage of food and medical supplies and it is feared that a crisis could unfold.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has warned that basic services in Afghanistan were collapsing and food and other life-saving aid is about to run out.

The situation resulting from the collapse of the West-backed Ghani government last month has been exacerbated by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund’s moves to block Afghanistan’s access to funds.

“We are saying that if you’re not ready for immediate economic aid or development, fine, but do not take steps that would lead to an economic collapse of Afghanistan, that will not help, that will not help anyone, it will certainly not help the Afghan people, and it will not help the region,” Mr Qureshi said, addressing the international community, which is insisting that future engagement and assistance would depend on Taliban’s actions.

“At least release what’s theirs, the Afghan assets should be unfrozen and let Afghan people utilise their money for their benefit, for their people and that would be a very welcome development,” Mr Qureshi further said.

The Qatari foreign minister welcomed the reopening of Kabul’s airport and said it would enable the people to go in and out. This, he believed, would help Taliban to meet the commitment of not preventing anyone from exiting the country.

He also urged Taliban to be more inclusive. “Bring all Afghans under one umbrella, we want to see a united Afghanistan, we want to see a strong Afghanistan prosperous and stable and all of us will be supportive for this progress,” he added.

Mr Al-Thani also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Speaking about Afghanistan, Mr Khan said it was vital to stabilise the security situation, prevent a humanitarian crisis, and stabilise the economy. He said Pakistan would continue to play its role for the economic uplift, humanitarian relief and assistance to Afghanistan.

Mr Khan called upon the international community to stand in solidarity with the Afghan people, engage positively, and create incentives to ensure sustainable peace, stability and economic development in Afghanistan.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2021

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