Qureshi says no rush to recognise Taliban govt in Afghanistan

Published September 21, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (L) sits with Pakistan's Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram as they speak to AFP on the sidelines of the high-level 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 20. — AFP
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (L) sits with Pakistan's Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram as they speak to AFP on the sidelines of the high-level 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 20. — AFP

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers should understand that if they want recognition and assistance in rebuilding the war-battered country, they have to be more sensitive and more receptive to international opinion and norms.

Qureshi, who is in New York to attend the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), said on Tuesday that countries are watching to see how things evolve in Afghanistan before considering recognition.

“I don't think anybody is in a rush to recognise at this stage and the Taliban should keep an eye on that,” he said.

If the Taliban want recognition, “they have to be more sensitive and more receptive to international opinion,” he said.

The minister said that Pakistan's objective was peace and stability in Afghanistan and to achieve that "we would suggest to Afghans that they should have an inclusive government".

Read: PM Imran says dialogue initiated with Taliban for inclusive Afghan government

He said their initial statements indicate they aren't averse to the idea, so "let's see".

Qureshi expressed the hope the Afghan Taliban would live up to their promise that girls and women would be allowed to go to school, college and university.

He also strongly urged the United States and other countries that have frozen money from the former Afghan government to release it because "that's Afghan money that should be spent on Afghan people".

He said the most urgent priority was averting an even deeper economic collapse of the neighboring nation that could trigger a humanitarian catastrophe.

“On one hand, you're raising fresh funds to avert a crisis and on the other hand money that is theirs — belongs to them — they cannot use,” Qureshi told reporters.

“I think freezing the assets is not helping the situation. I would strongly urge the powers that be that they should revisit that policy and think of an unfreeze,” he said.

“It will be a confidence-building measure as well and that could also incentivise positive behavior.”

The United States froze $9.5 billion in Afghan central bank assets and international lenders have stayed clear of Afghanistan, wary of providing money that could be used by the Taliban.

Qureshi reaches New York for five-day visit

Qureshi is currently in New York on a five-day visit during which he will attend the 76th session of the UN General Assembly and hold bilateral talks with his counterparts from other countries participating in the summit.

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the session via a video link and will outline Pakistan's perspective on key global and regional issues.

PM Imran's policy address to the UN General Assembly and the foreign minister's visit to New York reflect the development of diplomatic relations between Pakistan, its international partners and international organisations, the FO said

Qureshi was welcomed by Pakistan's permanent representative to the UN Munir Akram, Pakistan's Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed and senior officials of the Pakistan embassy at John F Kennedy International Airport upon arriving in New York.

Shortly after arriving, Qureshi tweeted: "Good to be in New York for #UNGA76 where PM Imran will deliver Pakistan’s policy address virtually. Pleased to be participating in various high-level meetings and side events, along with holding a diversity of bilateral meetings with my counterparts and UN leadership."

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