Afghanistan being destroyed by Taliban, says German FM

Published June 8, 2022
ISLAMABAD: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari arrive at a joint press conference, following their meeting at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.—AFP
ISLAMABAD: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari arrive at a joint press conference, following their meeting at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Asserting that Afghan­istan was being taken to its downfall, visiting German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Tuesday asked the international community to send “a loud and clear message” to the Afghan Taliban that they were heading in the wrong direction.

“As long as they go down this path, there is no room for normalisation and even recognition of Taliban as legitimate rulers,” she said while speaking at a joint stakeout with her Pakistani counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

The Taliban “have brought incredible suffering and hunger to the people in Afghanistan,” she said, noting that the crisis had consequences outside of Afghanistan’s borders and that Pakistan would bear the brunt of them.

“Parents do not know how to feed their children; girls are deprived of their right to education; women have been shunned from society; dissenting voices are suppressed and the economy is rendering to a halt,” she said in her remarks.

Visiting dignitary tests positive for Covid after joint presser; Bilawal also goes into quarantine

However, the foreign minister also extended the assurance that Germany would not forget or abandon the people of Afghanistan.

“It is not the mistake of the people that the Taliban overthrew the government and have since tightened their grip on Afghan society,” she said, promising that Germany would continue to provide humanitarian assistance and support to the people who need it, especially women and girls.

She said Pakistan had been Germany’s “closest and most reliable partner” in this regard, revealing that thanks to close cooperation between the two countries, 14,000 Afghans who were at risk in their homeland could travel to Germany via Pakistan and be able to start a new life in safety and without fear.

On Ukraine, Ms Baerbock pointed out that Russia’s restrictions on wheat exports and its capture of Ukrainian stocks had sent global food prices sky-rocketing, putting the livelihoods of countries dependent on them at risk of a food crisis.

Both foreign ministers also expressed grave concern over the deteriorating climate conditions of the world.

“When it comes to climate crisis, we are all living in the same house and the roof is already on fire. We are running out of time and have to act now,” the German FM said.

She recalled that Germany and Pakistan had established a joint climate and energy partnership last year. “We want to build on this partnership — move forward with the energy transition and lift our bilateral climate relations to the next level,” she said.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari, while speaking on the occasion, said he hoped the Afghan authorities will be responsive to the international community’s expectations regarding the inclusiveness and respect of human rights and would take effective action against terrorism.

“Pakistan’s policy is clear. We support a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan which contributes to stability and regional connectivity,” he said. “It is our hope that the Afghan authorities will be responsive to the expectations of the international community — including inclusivity, respect and human rights for all, including women — and that they will take effective actions against terrorism.”

About the Ukraine crisis, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan “does not want to be dragged into conflict, particularly given that we have just experienced decade after decade of conflict in Afghanistan”.

Welcoming Ms Baerbock on her first visit to Pakistan as foreign minister, he said Pakistan and Germany have a longstanding cordial relationship marked by mutual respect and close cooperation.

He noted that Germany was the largest trading partner of Pakistan within the EU, and the fifth-largest export destination for Pakistan.

He also said that Germany was one of the few countries with which Pakistan has a positive trade balance.

Earlier, during delegation-level talks, the two sides had an extensive exchange of views on various aspects of bilateral relations, with a special focus on enhancing cooperation in the fields of trade and investment, climate change and renewable energy.

Foreign Minister Baerbock thanked Pakistan for its role in facilitating the evacuation of foreign nationals and others from Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari assured the German side that Pakistan would support the evacuation request.

Following their meeting and joint presser, the German foreign minister cut short her three-nation tour and cancelled all her other engagements in Pakistan after being testing positive for Covid-19. She was supposed to remain in Pakistan until Wednesday before leaving for Greece and Turkey.

Ms Baerbock took a test after she noticed that she had lost her sense of taste at lunch, her ministry said on Twitter. It said that a test done hours before had been negative. Mr Bhutto-Zardari also went in isolation after the development.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2022

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