PM Imran takes veiled swipe at US for Afghan turmoil

Published December 22, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses officers of the Foreign Office on Tuesday. — PID
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses officers of the Foreign Office on Tuesday. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday made veiled criticism of the United States for creating in Afghanistan a humanitarian crisis that is affecting millions of people and allowing it to worsen.

“A man-made crisis is being created despite knowing that it can be averted if (Afghanistan’s) accounts (in the US) are unfrozen and liquidity is put into their banking system,” PM Khan said while speaking at a ceremony held at Foreign Office to celebrate the successful holding of the extraordinary session of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers.

The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan caused by drought and decades of conflict has been aggravated by the economic crunch resulting from US sanctions and assets freeze after Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan.

Terms Pakistan’s decision to join war on terror ‘a self-inflicted wound’

The US has frozen nearly $9.5 billion of Afghan reserves in American banks on the pretext that court rulings in cases filed by the victims of 9/11 and those who suffered because of the Taliban required the executive to do so. Washington has indicated that it may show greater flexibility about sanctions on Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, but that frozen funds cannot be released.

The OIC CFM was held to deliberate on the growing crisis in Afghanistan and the 57-member Muslim bloc decided to set up a Humanitarian Trust Fund that is expected to channel aid to the war-ravaged country. A food security programme is also being initiated.

Mr Khan said dealing with the crisis in Afghanistan would need a “constant struggle”. At the same time, he laid emphasis on the urgency of the crisis-like situation saying “time was of the essence”.

The prime minister appreciated the FO for increased global support for Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan. He then criticised the foreign policy pursued by the past governments, especially the decision to join the war on terror, which he described as “a self-inflicted wound”.

He regretted that the past governments compromised national interest and dignity to get foreign aid. While making the policies in the past under consideration was not the interest of people, as the goal much like participation in the Afghan jihad was to earn dollars, he added.

Mr Khan, however, asked the FO to orientate towards geo-economics to improve the country’s standing. He noted that Pakistan’s image in the world had improved despite the economic challenges it faced and the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi mentioned the reforms undertaken at the FO, including digitisation, automation of the processes, changes in rules and procedures, strengthening of the Foreign Service Academy and Institute of Strategic Studies and launch of FM Direct and FM Portal.

According to him, Pakistan is now all set to host the 48th regular session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in March.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2021

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