LAHORE: Pakistan on Saturday announced to host an extraordinary session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC countries on December 19, with core objectives of highlighting the need for urgent assistance and mobilization of resources to avert a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse in war-torn Afghanistan.
“If we don’t pay timely attention, half of Afghanistan’s population or 22.8 million people can face food shortage and 3.2 million children may face malnutrition. This is the magnitude which we and the world should understand,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said at a news conference here.
He said considering the gravity of the situation, Pakistan made an effort and moved ahead to host the international event realizing that, if not addressed timely, the situation would have dire consequences for Afghanistan, its neighbors as well as the whole region.
He said the country could face an economic collapse if the frozen assets were not released to cope with the burgeoning needs.
He said such an extraordinary session OIC FMs on the Afghanistan situation would be held after 41 years with the first held in 1980.
He said besides the foreign ministers of the OIC countries, Pakistan also invited the special representatives of P-5 countries including the US, China, Russia, France, and the UK.
Moreover, the High Representative of the European Union on Foreign Affairs was also invited, and that the invitation would also be extended to the World Bank and relevant UN agencies which could assist in the whole process.
Moreover, with a mere objective of evolving an international consensus, Pakistan would also invite important countries like Germany, Japan, Canada, and Australia.
Foreign Minister 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 countries would meet here besides the officials of the OIC Secretariat to be arriving even more earlier around December 1 to oversee the preparations.
Qureshi said the idea of holding the session on Afghanistan emerged during the meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in Riyadg on the sideline of the Green Summit.
It was discussed that as Afghanistan was the founding member of the OIC, so the Muslim Ummah should also make efforts for the brotherly country to steer it out of the difficult situation.
He said being chair of the OIC, Saudi Arabia came onboard and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal also took a keen interest to evolve a consensus.
He 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 EU parliamentarians in Brussels to sensitize them on the Afghanistan situation.
He said after the withdrawal of troops and the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, India launched a campaign to sanction Pakistan blaming the country for the situation. However, due to its effective foreign policy, Pakistan thwarted all such Indian 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 neighboring 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 FATF, 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 compete… 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 that some powers wanted to use FATF for Pakistan’s arm twisting 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 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 Pakistani 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 Indian Illegally 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.