World must engage with new reality in Afghanistan: Qureshi

Staff Reporter

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Friday that there was a new reali ty in Afghanistan, one the world needed to recognise and engage with.

The foreign minister made the comments while addressing a press conference in Islamabad alongside Spanish counterpart Jose Manuel Albares after holding delegation-level talks.

“There is a new reality in Afghanistan. The world must recognise that new reality and engage with it. Weigh your options [and decide] what is the best way forward.

“In my view, the best way forward is international engagement as opposed to international isolation,” he said, adding that the latter will have undesirable consequences.

“It will not be helpful for Afghanistan, the region and eventually not be helpful for [the world],” the foreign minister said. He stressed that a “new approach” needed to be adopted, adding that intimidation, pressure and coercion had not worked — a fact that must be accepted.

“Be positive and encourage [the Taliban] to stay on course,” he said.Responding to a question regarding why the international community was unable to recognise the ground reality in Afghanistan, Qureshi said he had gathered from his interactions with colleagues that “people are not in a hurry and are watching and waiting”.

“There is recognition of a new reality and there is the awareness that engagement is required and that dialogue can be useful,” Q ureshi said, adding that while the desire to engage was present, there was no “rush to recognise”.

The foreign minister stressed that immediate focus was needed on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. “We have to chip in,” he said.

Qureshi voiced appreciation for an upcoming conference in Geneva on how the international community could contribute in averting a humanitarian crisis and raising funds for Afghans.

He also mentioned Pakistan’s efforts in this regard, talking about the Pakistan Air Force aircraft which landed at Kabul airport on Thursday morning carrying relief goods.

“We will continue to do that through air and land routes and the international community should also do their bit,” Qureshi said. The foreign minister said that Afghanistan’s economic collapse would not be in the interest of any stakeholder and steps should be taken to avert such an outcome.

He pointed out that he had earlier said that freezing Afghan funds would not be helpful and that the decision should be revisited.

The Spanish foreign minister, meanwhile, said that Spain also wanted peace and stability for Afghanistan. “We want humanitarian assistance to reach the Afghans and we hope that it will be possible,” he said.

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