Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the international community and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have now acknowledged Pakistan’s narrative on Afghanistan.
He made veiled criticism of the United States for creating a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan 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
The premier was speaking at a ceremony held at Foreign Office in Islamabad on Tuesday 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.
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 premier said the international community should focus on the difficulties being faced by the 40 million Afghans.
Pakistan’s image has “significantly improved at the international level in the last three years,” he said, two days after Islamabad hosted the 17th extraordinary session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC.
Muslim nations, during the session, resolved to work with the United Nations to try to unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen Afghan assets in a bid to tackle a growing humanitarian crisis.
Prime Minister Imran said dealing with the crisis in Afghanistan would need a “constant struggle”.
The prime minister appreciated the FO for increased global support for Pakistan’s stance on Afghanistan. He 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. They did not give importance to the interest of masses as their goal, like participation in the Afghan jihad, was to earn dollars, he added.
He, 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.
The prime minister, while lauding the nation’s mettle to face testing times, stressed upon “self-belief”, a quality that could serve as a beacon of light in hard times.
He said it was the self-belief that always brings changes.
“When you instil self-belief in yourself as a nation, you can achieve marvels. When the earthquake hit the country (during 2005), the whole nation mobilised and during floods (of 2010), the nation contributed, which reflected that the nation could always stand the tests of time,” he added.
Prime Minister Imran also referred to his cricket career and the performance of the national cricket team which achieved success when motivated with self-belief.
“The country has a huge talented population of 220 million people along with nine million overseas Pakistanis who are capable of achieving anything as they have excelled in every field,” he added.
“No country aspires progress sans rule of law,” he said, adding certain Western countries had achieved progress and prosperity despite scant resources, as they had introduced a culture of rule of law.
The prime minister regretted that in the past, the elite had captured spaces as they were “pampered with all facilities”.
He underscored that the government would have to focus to lift the poor segments of society and for this purpose, the whole nation would have to continue this struggle.
Citing the current account deficit, the prime minister said it had increased pressure on the rupee. The government had almost overcome the challenge, but the increasing commodity prices at the global level proved as a choking point.
Expressing his resolve, he said, however, it was a temporary phase and the country would overcome it.
“I strongly believe that Pakistan has a great future and the nation will become strong,” he said, recollecting that during the 60s, the nation was following that path.
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.