Qureshi calls for devising roadmap on Afghanistan for political engagement, economic integration

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enewspaper.com.pk/ Qureshi calls for devising roadmap on Afghanistan

TEHRAN, (APP): Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called for devising a long-term roadmap for Afghanistan in order to advance the agenda of political engagement, economic integration, and regional connectivity.

Addressing at the second Ministerial Meeting of Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan, the foreign minister stressed the need for exploring possibilities of collaboration with key international actors that can support the reconstruction and economic development efforts in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister of the host country Iran Dr. Abdullahian, and the foreign ministers of China, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan attended the session.

He said achieving economic sustainability in Afghanistan was a crucial step at the moment as the country was experiencing a severe economic crisis for reasons, both internal and external.

He mentioned that there had been a severe drought in Afghanistan for the last two years and the situation had been compounded by a high inflation rate.

He pointed out that following the Taliban takeover of Kabul, major donors had stopped funding the Afghan government, stressing that earlier the donors used to cater for roughly 70 percent of Afghanistan’s budget.

Qureshi said the sudden withdrawal of foreign assistance had created a huge gap and warned that 90 percent of the Afghan population could fall below the poverty line next year.

For its part, he said, Pakistan was trying its best to help stem the downslide and continued to provide urgently needed food-stuff and medicines to Afghanistan.

He mentioned in this regard facilitating provision of international humanitarian assistance by land and air and revising custom duties on Afghan products.

He welcomed the pledges of more than $1.2 billion announced during the flash appeal by the United Nations, however, noted that these pledges had not been converted into disbursements yet.

The foreign minister said it was important that Afghanistan was allowed access to its frozen assets to reverse the economic downturn.

“Our collective efforts can halt economic meltdown. An economic collapse will yield instability, conflict, and a refugee influx into neighboring countries and onward to other regions,” he said.

On counter-terrorism, he said terrorist organizations operating inside Afghanistan posed a threat to international peace and stability and needed vigilance.

“The Afghan Interim government must ensure that there is no safe haven for such elements and that Afghan territory is not used to harm any country,” he said.

Qureshi hoped that the Taliban would take all necessary steps to meet this most important expectation of the international community.

“We must support an Afghanistan that contributes positively to regional stability and promotes connectivity. We must do so while respecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

He said Pakistan had presented the idea of creating a mechanism for the six neighbors of Afghanistan to develop a unified regional approach and expressed gratitude to those who agreed to participate in the proposed meeting.

“It is essential to prevent renewed conflict and foil the designs of spoilers, both within and outside Afghanistan,” he said.

He stressed that at this critical juncture, all stakeholders must avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, maintain positive engagement, and show solidarity with the Afghan people.

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