FM urges West to ‘eschew tendency to mold Afghan society’

Author: APP

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has urged the West “to eschew the tendency to mold the Afghan society and body politic according to its own worldview”.

“The international community needs to realize that the new order of things in Afghanistan is not something that can be wished away or rendered insignificant through polemics and grandstanding,” the foreign minister said.

Qureshi said the tide of Afghanistan’s history had shifted, however added that “we can usher in an era of stability in the region”.  He said Pakistan was in favor of an inclusive approach respectful of the multi-ethnic character of Afghan society.

“The challenge is to rise above the jostling of narratives to work for peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said. He stressed that no one wants to see the people of Afghanistan succeed more than Pakistan  “As if stricken by the proverbial Cassandra’s curse, Pakistan kept telling the arbiters of Afghanistan’s destiny that the Afghan conundrum did not lend itself to a military solution,” he said.

He said Pakistan kept on saying that it had nothing to gain from increasing Afghanistan’s woes, only to be greeted by cynicism and occasional derision. “But we persevered. Afghanistan is a brother and not a pawn on some chessboard of regional hegemonistic aspirations,” he said.

The foreign minister mentioned that Pakistan had suffered more than 80,000 casualties in its own war on terrorism in the last two decades, hosted more than four million refugees ungrudgingly  This incurred economic losses of over US $150 billion — a figure that makes the assistance received by Pakistan a pittance in comparison, he added.

Qureshi said blame games and unrealistic expectations tested Pakistan, but it remained steadfast in its commitment to stabilization of Afghanistan.

He recalled that Pakistan’s constructive role was instrumental in advancing the negotiations that evolved between the US and the Taliban, which concluded with a peace agreement, and the negotiations between the Taliban and the government of former President Ashraf Ghani held in Doha, Qatar.

He said after August 15 when the Taliban entered the Afghan capital and seized the presidential palace, Pakistan proved its sincerity by keeping its embassy in Kabul open.  Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) helped evacuate functionaries of diplomatic missions, international organizations, NGOs and media entities, he added.

Qureshi quoted Prime Minister Imran Khan as saying that “Pakistan means well. Work with us to heal the wounds of Afghanistan. This is not the time for casting blame.” He mentioned that Pakistan supported the protection of human rights, especially those of women and girls and of the most vulnerable sections of the Afghan population.

“We also want to see an Afghanistan that is at peace with itself, with its neighbors, and with the world,” he said. “Like the rest of the international community, we want to ensure that Afghanistan never again turns into a sanctuary for terrorists”.

He said it was is heartening to note that the pronouncements coming from the Taliban were reflective of a desire to establish peace, enhance stability, and work for reconciliation. “All of us should encourage and support those statements and signals,” he said.

The foreign minister pointed out that the international community must remain cognizant of the humanitarian consequences of abandoning Afghanistan  He said even a small fraction of what was spent in Afghanistan in the last two decades would help the country get back on its feet.

“This would redound to the benefit of regional peace and stability, help combat narcotics trafficking, and prevent a serious refugee crisis which would bode ill, not only for the neighboring countries of Afghanistan but also for the West,” he said. “The world must not abandon the Afghan people at this crucial juncture”.

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