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Neighbors urge Kabul to fulfil promises

ISLAMABAD: Top diplomats from China, Russia, Pakistan, and Iran gathered in Uzbekistan on Thursday to discuss the evolving situation in Afghanistan, with attendees expressing alarm over some of the interim government in Kabul’s activities.

While China, Russia, and Iran sent foreign ministers to the second quadrilateral group meeting on Afghanistan, Pakistan was represented by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar.

The quadrilateral delegation also attended a separate summit of Afghanistan’s Neighboring Countries in Samarkand. Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting Afghan foreign minister, also attended the meeting, when some countries expressed worry over the Taliban’s decision to bar females’ education and their failure to combat terrorist groups.

On Pakistan’s initiative, the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan mechanism was founded in 2021 with the goal of developing a regional solution to the situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistan hosted the first meeting of neighboring countries’ foreign ministers on September 8, 2021, and participated in the second meeting two months later in Tehran, Iran’s capital. The third meeting was held in March 2022 in Tunxi, China.

The system will help to build consensus among Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, who are direct players in the country’s condition.

“We’ve convened at a key juncture. Afghanistan is currently confronted with a number of interconnected and mutually reinforcing difficulties. “The humanitarian situation in the country remains dire, with a staggering 28 million people – more than two-thirds of the population – in need of immediate humanitarian assistance to survive,” Khar stated during his speech at the conference.

“Terrorism continues to wreak havoc on the lives of Afghans on a daily basis.” “The threat posed by terrorist organizations to neighboring states and the region has grown,” she said.

The state minister stated that “we see the world moving away” at a time when the Afghan people needed the international community the most, slamming doors on ordinary Afghan civilians.

“Growing voices, particularly in the West, are advocating a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan in order to offload its problems on the neighboring countries and walk away,” Khar said.

“There are clear indications that humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan will decline significantly this year.” “Some even question the value of involving the interim Afghan government,” she said.

“We believe that these approaches are misguided and should be reconsidered.” We must not repeat [previous] errors; leaving the people of Afghanistan is always a disastrous decision.”

She did, however, express concern about some of the interim Afghan government’s policies and actions, which did not aid the Afghan people’s cause.

“The decision to suspend education for women and girls and prevent them from working for national and international NGOs is regrettable,” she said.

“Not only does it deny enterprising Afghan women and girls their rightful opportunities to progress and advance, and to secure gainful employment, but it also restricts the helping hand of many Afghan friends and well-wishers,” she continued.

Pakistan, according to Khar, was disappointed with this choice.

“We believe that the right to education is a fundamental human right, as enshrined in our noble religion and the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH),” she said.

She also discussed the terrorism threat originating in Afghanistan. “We also believe that more needs to be done to eradicate terrorist organizations’ footholds in Afghanistan without discrimination and in a concerted and uniform manner,”

“More cooperation and coordination with the interim Afghan government is still required.” “We look forward to working closely with neighboring countries and the international community to achieve this goal,” she added.

Meanwhile, the quadrilateral group agreed on a number of measures, including a call for the United States to lift its unilateral sanctions against Afghanistan and an appeal to Afghan authorities to build an inclusive government that protects the interests of all people, including women, children, and ethnic minorities.

Following the discussion, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang expressed worry about the Afghan authorities’ recent decision to bar Afghan women from working with the UN in Afghanistan.

However, Qin also told reporters that, while women’s rights and interests were essential, they were not the entire problem in Afghanistan, nor were they the heart and underlying cause of the Afghan problem.

The international community should approach the Afghan issue in a complete, balanced, and impartial manner, he added, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive and methodical solution to the Afghan situation.

Meanwhile, Khar conducted bilateral discussions with Russian, Chinese, Iranian, and Central Asian foreign ministries.

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