After invoking UN norm, PM Imran clarifies call for Afghan help

Published January 24, 2022
This file photo shows Prime Minister Imran Khan during a visit to the Foreign Office. — Photo courtesy: Prime Minister's Office
This file photo shows Prime Minister Imran Khan during a visit to the Foreign Office. — Photo courtesy: Prime Minister's Office

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan revisited his call to help Afghanistan under the international doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), inviting the international community to fulfil its obligation to the Afghan people by providing humanitarian assistance to the country.

“One pillar of R2P is to help protect people from mass scale humanitarian crisis left in the wake of a prolonged conflict. Right now millions of Afghan people are in danger of starvation,” he tweeted.

This tweet was a follow-up to his earlier call for immediate humanitarian relief for Afghans, fulfilling the obligation under the “UN principle of R2P”.

The later tweet was perhaps necessitated by criticism on electronic and social media of the wording of his appeal, which seemed to negate Pakistan’s foreign policy stance regarding the status of Afghanistan and its government.

“R2P has nothing to do with the current humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. Please take to task who came up with this frivolous and dangerous interpretation of R2P,” former Foreign Office spokesperson Abdul Basit tweeted in response to the prime minister.

According to the Global Centre for R2P, this is an international norm that “seeks to ensure that the international community never again fails to halt the mass atrocity crimes of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

The concept emerged in response to “the failure of the international community to adequately respond to mass atrocities committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s”.

These preconditions were pointed out by analyst Mosharraf Zaidi, who tweeted: “Unless someone is arguing that one or more of these conditions is prevalent in Afghanistan, there is no R2P.”

It is worth noting that PM Khan has advocated the need for the international community to engage with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, saying this is the only way to ensure the protection of the people of the war-torn country.

Recalling Pakistan’s principled stance on the issue of R2P, legal expert Feisal Naqvi pointed out that Pakistan was opposed to the “constructivist concept of R2P because it is often wrongly used by stronger states to intervene. For example, India used R2P to justify its 1971 invasion of then East Pakistan,” he tweeted.

Dawn reached out to National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf to obtain the government’s perspective on this issue, but he could not be reached for comment.

In another message on Sunday, the PM shared the hashtag #SaveAfghanLives, tweeting: “I will add my voice also and want people to join an international initiative to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan, putting at risk of starvation millions of Afghans, especially children.”

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2022

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