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Abandoning Afghanistan to cause rise in terror incidents, transnational crimes: PM

DUSHANBE: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday urged the international community for enhanced engagement and believed that abandoning Afghanistan would create unstable situation leading to the rise in terrorist incidents, negative spillover effect on neighboring countries and transnational organized crimes.

“At the two moment, there are two stark choice before the international community; enhance engagement or abandon Afghanistan… Abandoning Afghanistan will take us back to the unstable situation resulting in civil strife, negative spillover effect on neighboring countries, outflow of refuges, rise in terrorist incidents, drug trafficking and transnational organized crimes,” the prime minister said addressing the Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on “Outreach on Afghanistan” here.

The prime minister viewed that after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, when Afghanistan was abandoned, the people of Afghanistan had suffered. “Engagement therefore, in our view, is the only way forward,” he remarked.

He hoped that the meeting would strengthen the participating countries’ collective resolve to promote what a common Afghan had been desperately seeking for the last 40 years – a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

He said as a direct neighbor and deeply impacted by the negative fallout for decades, Pakistan had a vital stake in a peaceful outcome.

Imran Khan told the regional leaders that after 40 years of conflict and instability, there was a distinct possibility of finally ending the war and establishing sustainable peace. The situation has evolved to this point in a rather unexpected way.

He wished the foreign forces had withdrawn in a more certain and predictable manner. The meltdown of Afghan security forces and collapse of the Afghanistan government was as sudden as it was unanticipated, he stated.

“Yet, the transition occurred without any bloodshed, which for Pakistan is a matter of great relief. The prospect of a civil war which was our biggest worry seems to have been averted, for now. The much-dreaded mass exodus of refugees has fortunately not materialized,” he said.

The prime minister said the impending humanitarian crisis and a possible economic meltdown posed the two most urgent and formidable challenges.

Imran Khan said the transition of Afghanistan from an economy dependent on foreign aid and a war economy to a sustainable one would also be a huge challenge. He believed that the instability in Afghanistan impacted the entire region, and stability in Afghanistan would benefit the region as a whole.

He urged the international community to approach the new reality in Afghanistan with a new perspective, based on a realistic assessment and pragmatic approach with a core collective interest to help stabilize the security situation, prevent any renewed conflict, and prevent mass exodus.

“It is equally in our interest to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a safe haven for any terrorist entity. For this, the Taliban must take every measure to honor their commitments. The promise of an inclusive political structure should also be fulfilled. Peace will only be consolidated with national reconciliation,” he commented.

At the same time, he said the attempts to demonize the Taliban and fuel internal tensions should also be rejected as such a “such a myopic and unwise approach being adopted by some will only compound the challenges, not resolve them.”

He urged the international community to reach out to reaffirm their support and solidarity with the Afghan people as sustained international humanitarian assistance and economic support would save lives and underpin stability.

Moreover, he viewed that allowing Afghanistan’s frozen assets to be used for the welfare of the Afghan people would also be a step in the right direction. It would be prudent to handle these matters impacting the human condition in Afghanistan, without politicization, he said.

Highlighting Pakistan’s consistent policy, the prime minister said the country had been supporting Afghanistan on its path of peace, progress and prosperity and always opposed military solution.

Under the new situation, he said Pakistan remained constructively engaged and kept its borders open to facilitate regular movement and let bilateral as well as transit trade flow. The country also dispatched several plane-loads of food and medicines to help address the humanitarian needs of Afghans.

The SCO and CSTO naturally have a vested interest in secure borders, a region free from terrorist threat, and enhanced economic integration and connectivity. “Let’s work in tandem to assist Afghanistan on its way to peace, stability and prosperity and pray that after 40 years the people of Afghanistan will finally see peace and stability,” the prime minister added.

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