ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Troika Plus Meeting on Afghanistan was held in Islamabad on Thursday with the participation of the special representatives and envoys for Afghanistan from China, Russia, the United States, and Pakistan.
In his remarks at the Opening Session of the Troika Plus Meeting, the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed confidence that Troika Plus’s engagement with the new Afghan government will help consolidate peace and stability, promote sustainable economic development and help constrict space for terrorist outfits operating from and within Afghanistan.
The following are remarks by the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Opening Session of the Troika Plus Meeting;
“Special Representatives of China, Pakistan, Russia and US, Distinguished delegates; I welcome you all to Islamabad at the 9th meeting of Troika Plus. Your presence here reflects our common desire to see a peaceful, stable, unified, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan. I wish you success in your deliberations today.
The Troika Plus is meeting after a gap of 3 months. During this period, Afghanistan has gone through a fundamental transformation. A new administration is functioning in Kabul; interim cabinet was instituted and a massive evacuation was carried out by the international community. The redeeming factors were: no bloodshed; much dreaded mass exodus of new refugees did not occur; encouraging announcement from Taliban on future step and, most importantly, international community has remained engaged. The engagement with Afghanistan must not only continue but should be enhanced for multiple reasons. Nobody wishes to see a relapse into civil war, no one wants an economic collapse that will spur instability; everyone wants terrorist elements operating inside Afghanistan to be tackled effectively and; we all want to prevent a new refugee crisis. All of us have common concerns related to Afghanistan and also have a shared interest in the country’s peace and stability. And to bring that about, is a shared responsibility.
In this situation, the Troika Plus has assumed greater significance and has a critical role to play. We are confident that Troika Plus’s engagement with the new Afghan government will help consolidate peace and stability, promote sustainable economic development and help constrict space for terrorist outfits operating from and within Afghanistan.
Today, Afghanistan stands at the brink of an economic collapse. With international funding dried up, it has become difficult to pay even salaries, let alone pursue development projects. The common man is reeling under the effects of a severe drought. Any further downward slide will severely limit the new administration’s capacity to run the government. It is, therefore, imperative for the international community to buttress provision of humanitarian assistance on an urgent basis. Health, education and municipal services require urgent attention. Enabling Afghanistan to access its frozen funds will dovetail into our efforts to regenerate economic activities and move the Afghan economy towards stability and sustainability. Similarly, the UN and its agencies must be urged to find ways to reach out to the common Afghan and help stabilize the situation.
Being an immediate neighbor, Pakistan has a direct stake in Afghanistan’s peace and stability Pakistan and Afghanistan have a shared heritage and history. We consider every ethnic community of Afghanistan important in the final destiny of the country. Located next door, we have borne the brunt of four decades of conflict and instability in the shape of refugees, drugs and terrorism. We see the current situation as an opportunity to end the prolonged conflict. Towards that end, we have already taken a number of steps to facilitate the common man in Afghanistan. Some of these are: waiver of custom duties on perishable food items to support farmers in Afghanistan; provision of humanitarian assistance; facilitating pedestrian movement; keeping the border open during COVID-19 and; Visa on arrival for medical cases. Post-15 August, I hosted a number of my counterparts from various countries. We are grateful to the neighbors of Afghanistan for supporting our call for a regional platform to discuss common concerns and opportunities. The two meetings yielded substantive and forward looking outcome documents. During all these interactions in Pakistan and abroad, our consistent message to the international community and the new Afghan government has been to remain engaged and find a mutually agreed way forward.
My visit to Kabul last month, helped us understand the new Afghan government’s expectations from the international community. It also provided us the opportunity to share our assessment with the Taliban leadership and highlight the international community’s expectations of them. We believe Taliban are interested in engagement, as they seek international acceptance and support. It is, therefore, crucial that the international community avoids repeating mistakes of the past and continues with positive engagement. For our part, I reaffirm my Prime Minister’s resolve to help Afghanistan on its path towards peace, progress and prosperity.
I thank you”