Pakistan invites UN P5 to attend OIC meeting on Afghanistan

LAHORE: Pakistan will host a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) group on December 19 to highlight the need for urgent assistance and mobilisation of resources to avert a looming humanitarian crisis in war-ravaged Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said.

Qureshi, who was addressing a press conference here, said that in addition to the foreign ministers of the OIC nations, Pakistan also invited the special representatives of five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council (UNSC) which include the US, China, Russia, France and the UK.

The High Representative of the European Union on Foreign Affairs was also invited, he said, adding an invitation would also be extended to the World Bank and relevant UN agencies which could assist in the whole process.

With a mere objective of evolving an international consensus, Pakistan would also invite important countries including Germany, Japan, Canada and Australia.

“If we don’t pay attention now, half of Afghanistan’s population, or 22.8 million people, could face food shortage and 3.2 million children may face malnutrition. This is the magnitude which we and the world should understand,” Qureshi said.

He said considering the gravity of the situation, Pakistan made an effort, and moved ahead, to host the summit realising that, if not addressed on time, the situation would leave dire consequences for Afghanistan, its neighbours and the entire region.

He said the country could face an economic collapse if its assets frozen abroad were not released to cope with the burgeoning needs.

Qureshi said a session on Afghanistan would be held after 41 years, with the first one held in 1980.

Qureshi said Pakistan also desired to invite a high-level delegation of Afghanistan to interact with the visiting dignitaries and apprise them of the latest on-ground situation.

He said prior to the session, the senior officials of the respective nation would meet in Pakistan. The officials of the OIC Secretariat will be arriving even earlier to oversee the preparations.

Qureshi said the idea of holding the session emerged during the meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in Riyadh on the sidelines of the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) Summit held in October.

It was agreed that since Afghanistan was the founding member of the OIC, the Muslim world should also make efforts to steer it out of the difficult situation.

He said being chair of the OIC, Saudi Arabia came onboard and its Foreign Minister Prince Faisal also expressed a keen interest in evolving a consensus.

Qureshi said it was agreed that abandoning Afghanistan would be a historic blunder and the world should learn from the past instead of repeating the same mistake.

“If timely attention is not paid, a new crisis can emerge which would bring in instability. This instability will beget mass exodus of refugees. We are already hosting three million Afghan refugees and will be difficult to host anymore. The countries like Iran, Tajikistan, and other bordering countries are also similarly concerned,” he said.

He also told the media that on December 7, he would meet EU High Representative and its parliamentarians in Brussels to sensitise them on the Afghanistan situation.

He said after the withdrawal of foreign troops and the Taliban takeover in August, India launched a campaign to sanction Pakistan, blaming Islamabad for the situation. However, due to its proactive foreign policy, Pakistan thwarted New Delhi’s nefarious designs.

Qureshi said following Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach, the international community had been convinced that engagement with Afghanistan was in everyone’s interest as delegates had started visiting the country.

He said in collaboration with China, a platform of six neighbouring countries was also formed to discuss the situation and also explore opportunities after the revival of peace in Afghanistan.

The foreign minister said Pakistan was already assisting Afghan people by dispatching medicines, 50,000 tons of wheat and other relief items. Moreover, India was also allowed to transport wheat through Pakistan, though the country was still putting one after the other excuses to materialize the commitment.

Coming to the Financial Action Task Force (), he said unprecedented solid progress was made on the action plan as the political parties were also supporting the legislation to take the country out of the grey list.

He said a clear majority of the FATF members were convinced that Pakistan had made remarkable progress.

“Out of 27 points of the action plan, I firmly believe, 26.5 have been completed […] And, I think, there is no rationale for keeping Pakistan in the grey list. I hope in the next session, Pakistan should come out of the grey list. If it is kept in the grey list, then this forum will compromise its credibility,” he remarked.

The foreign minister told the media some powers wanted to use FATF to arm-twist Pakistan to get their demands fulfilled with India being on the forefront to politicize the technical forum.

Replying to a question, the foreign minister termed Friday’s incident of killing of a Sri Lankan factory manager in Sialkot as “unfortunate and shameful” and said the notice was taken at the highest level and the prime minister was personally overseeing the investigation.

He said the government gave 48 hours deadline to probe into the real factors behind the incident.

“We are in contact with Sri Lanka and updating high commissioner on the issue. They lauded Pakistan’s prompt reaction as such incident had hurt everyone,” he said.

The foreign minister said he would also speak to the Sri Lankan counterpart later on the day to apprise him of the situation and hoped that the incident would not impact the bilateral ties as the nation and the government had nothing to do with it.

To a question, the foreign minister reiterated the government’s willingness to take the opposition along in the legislation and other issues including the Electronic Voting Machine.

Coming to the situation in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the foreign minister said the government raised the issue at every world platform and also led to the UNSC discussing it thrice contrary to the Indian stance of calling it an internal matter.

He told the media that on Friday evening, he spoke to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and discussed bilateral relations. He assured that despite all tactics by the subversive elements, no CPEC project would be suspended.

“Like Kashmir, there is also a national consensus on CPEC and similar agreement is also emerging on Afghanistan,” he remarked.

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