Images captured during the virtual reunion. Source: www.english.ahram.org.eg
On Wednesday, September 8th, 2021, Pakistan held a video meeting of the Afghanistan neighboring countries to discuss about the latest developments in the country, one day after the announcement of an interim Taliban government. The participant countries were represented by their respective Foreign Ministers, such as the Pakistani FM, the Iranian FM, the Chinese FM, the Turkmen FM, the Tadjik FM, and the Uzbek FM.
According to a statement of the Pakistani Foreign Office, “the neighbors of Afghanistan have a vital stake in the stability of the country. A peaceful, stable, united, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan will contribute towards transit trade, people-to-people exchanges and security in the region”. As such, this meeting was built on discussions held during a meeting on September 5th, when discussions were held at the special representatives and envoys’ level.
During the meeting, the Pakistani FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi stressed that the prevention of a humanitarian crisis and economic meltdown in Afghanistan were key priorities in the wake of recent developments in the country. “In the wake of recent developments in the country, the key priorities are to prevent a humanitarian crisis that can exacerbate the sufferings of Afghans. Equally important is to take steps to prevent [an] economic meltdown in the country. If a humanitarian crisis is prevented and economic stability is assured, then peace can be consolidated and a mass exodus precluded,” Qureshi said. He stressed that the efforts required the enhanced engagement of the international community at this “pivotal juncture”, to reassure the Afghan people.
“The neighboring countries have a direct stake in Afghanistan’s stability. Our collective voice to the international community will reinforce our message of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbors,” Qureshi explained.
On the other hand, the Iranian FM Amir Abdollahian advocated for the need of preserving an inclusive religious and ethnic government in Afghanistan, while considering the dialogue as a main principle to be employed in the relation with this country and cautioned against the possibility of incitement and role of spoilers, both inside and outside the country, to derail efforts toward an all-inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan. In an interview with IRIB, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the main agenda of the meeting was how to contribute to the fulfillment of the will of all Afghans and the achievement of peace in the country. Abdollahian also said military intervention and foreign interference is “a repetition of errors that have happened several times in the current history of Afghanistan,” Khatibzadeh added.
Overall, neighboring countries of Afghanistan expressed solidarity and support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and non-interference in its international affairs, and emphasized that Afghanistan’s territory should not be allowed to pose a threat to other countries, according to a joint statement issued on Thursday, after the meeting. Moreover, the statement noted that with the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan now have to determine their own future, which should allow in practice to realize “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” process for national peace and reconciliation. “The changes undergone in Afghanistan prove yet again that there is no military solution to this issue, and emphasizing the importance of an inclusive political structure in Afghanistan with participation of all ethnic groups,” read the statement.
The FMs emphasized that the relevant members of the UN Security Council should take responsibility for peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan by supporting Afghanistan in developing its social and economic infrastructure. While the international community should not abandon the people of Afghanistan, it is also important for neighboring countries to work together to promote peace, security, stability, regional connectivity, people-to-people linkages, economic integration, trade and investment for the benefit of the whole region.
In terms of terrorism and drug production, which are among the top concerns of neighboring countries after the changes in Afghanistan, FMs reiterated that terrorist organizations, such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, ETIM, TTP, BLA, Jondollah and others should not be allowed to maintain a foothold on Afghanistan’s territory. For the drug production, they also pointed out that that the continued increase of narcotic drugs production over the past 20 years in Afghanistan has caused serious harm to the people of Afghanistan and the international community, and stressed the need to stop it.
In addition, they also expressed readiness to keep ports open for Afghanistan and ensure the smooth cross-border flow of goods to facilitate Afghanistan’s access to external support, in particular the transport of humanitarian supplies, as well as to help Afghanistan strengthen economic and trade connectivity with the regional countries.
As for the next round of meetings of FMs, it is expected to be held in in Tehran, especially since during the present meeting, they agreed to set up a mechanism of regular consultations of Special Envoys (Special Representatives) for Afghanistan affairs, as well as the regular meetings of representatives of Embassies in Kabul to discuss and coordinate their joint efforts.
This article was edited using data from the following websites: www.aljazeera.com, www.tehrantimes.com, www.dawn.com, www.independent.co.uk, www.en.dailypakistan.com.pk, www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng, www.globaltimes.cn, and www.hindustantimes.com.