Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday expressed confidence that countries participating in the 17th extraordinary session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers, due to be held tomorrow, will be able to reach consensus on measures to improve the situation in Afghanistan.

Talking to the media ahead of a meeting of senior officials of participant countries in Islamabad, he said he was “very happy” that Pakistan was now receiving support for the stance it had held for long — that a humanitarian crisis could arise in Afghanistan and the country’s subsequent economic collapse would affect the entire region.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan has been constantly trying to bring the world’s attention [to Afghanistan] and I am confident that Pakistan, along with foreign ministers of other Muslim countries, will move a step forward in building that consensus.”

He noted that the world “seemed to be reaching consensus” on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan where people were facing malnutrition and economic difficulties, adding that the war-torn country’s economy was reeling from the effects of a non-functioning banking system.

“I had mentioned yesterday that around 11 NATO commanders who had served in Afghanistan were pointing towards this (crisis). Those ambassadors, who have served in Kabul and are aware of the ground realities, are making the world aware [of the situation] and saying it is their opinion that Biden administration should review its policy to protect humanity and millions of Afghans in whom the US and the West have invested so much, for their capacity building, training and to shore up their economy.”

He was referring to a joint message issued by 12 former US generals and ambassadors earlier this week in which they urged the Biden administration to help rebuild a banking system in Afghanistan to prevent a total collapse of the Afghan state.

The foreign minister, in his press conference today, said the Afghan people were facing a new test and the world should not exhibit ignorance. A lot of voices were joining Pakistan, including from the European Union, to call for improving the situation in Afghanistan, he added.

Qureshi held up a copy of a letter that he said had been written by 37 American congressmen and addressed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in which they said “it is our responsibility, our moral obligation to avert a humanitarian crisis” in Afghanistan.

“I believe this new thought is the purpose of this extraordinary session of foreign ministers. It was our wish to bring the world’s attention to Afghanistan and I can see the progress.”

Qureshi said he was waiting for his guests — the visiting dignitaries — with “great anticipation”, sharing that around 437 delegates had registered themselves for the summit. A meeting would be held today to discuss the agenda and working plan for the Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting tomorrow, he said, adding: “I am confident that we will reach consensus this time and tomorrow’s session will be very important and historic.

“We are standing at a point in history where if we take the right step, there can be peace in the region [and] stability and prosperity in Afghanistan. And God forbid, we do not take timely steps and correct decisions, Afghanistan could face another crisis, and all of its neighbours will be affected. And not only them but Europe can also be affected because of the influx of economic migrants.”

The foreign minister said that Pakistan also wished for Afghan refugees in the country to be repatriated honourably but that could only happen when there was stability and opportunities for livelihood.

In response to a question, Qureshi said that meetings would be held on the sidelines of the OIC summit and delegations would also meet prime minister Imran Khan. There are 13 or 14 meetings scheduled for Saturday (today), he disclosed.

Arrival of foreign dignitaries

Meanwhile, foreign dignitaries continued to arrive in Pakistan ahead of the OIC summit. Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi arrived in Islamabad on Saturday and was welcomed by federal minister Ali Mohammad Khan and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mansoor Ahmed Khan.

Foreign Minister of Bosnia Dr Bisera Turkovic, Foreign Minister of Malaysia Saifuddin Abdullah and Foreign Minister of Indonesia Retno Marsudi also arrived in the capital earlier in the day. They were welcomed by Defence Production Minister Zubaida Jalal, according to the official news agency APP.

In addition, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan Nuryshev Shakhrat and Special Representative of Germany for Afghanistan Ambassador Jasper Wieck also reached the country.

The moot was proposed by Saudi Arabia last month, following which Pakistan had welcomed the move and offered to host the session.

OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha, who arrived in Pakistan on Friday, said it was high time to think how Muslim countries could help their Afghan brethren at this critical juncture.

He later met with FM Qureshi at the Foreign Office.

President of the Islamic Development Bank Dr Mohammad Sulaiman Al-Jasser, on reaching Islamabad, said participation of OIC ministers in the conference was an expression of their resolve for peace in Afghanistan and Afghan people would soon get the fruits of peace.

Besides OIC members and observers, the Foreign Office said, the UN system, international financial institutions, international and regional organisations and non-OIC members, including P-5 countries, European Union and countries like Japan, and Germany have also been invited.

The story was filed by the News Desk.
The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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