Don’t repeat mistake of abandoning Afghans, Qureshi tells Blinken | The Express Tribune


Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday held the first face to face meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York and asked Washington not to repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan.

The meeting, held at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, came amid concerns that the relationship between Pakistan and the US may see a dip after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The meeting, as per Qureshi’s tweet, discussed Pakistan’s desire to have broad-based ties covering trade, investment, energy and regional connectivity.

The foreign minister said that close engagement between Islamabad and Washington has always been mutually beneficial and a factor for stability in South Asia. He reiterated Pakistan’s desire for a balanced relationship with the United States that was anchored in trade, investment, energy and regional connectivity.

At a recent testimony before the US Congress, Secretary Blinken said Washington would reassess Pakistan’s role it played in the last 20 years in Afghanistan and what role his country wanted it to play in the future.

FM Qureshi also told Secretary Blinken that Pakistan is committed to facilitating inclusive political settlement in Kabul.

In a tweet, Qureshi said he shared with Blinken the importance of the international community holding the Taliban to their commitments; also for the same community to recognise the moral obligation to help the Afghan people with the growing humanitarian crisis.

“The world should not repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan,” he stressed.

Pakistan is worried that the US may commit the same mistake as it did after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Islamabad feels such an approach would be catastrophic as this would not only lead to the humanitarian crisis but also allow terrorist outfits to regroup posing threat to the region and the world.

Also read: Taliban ready to meet world’s demands, envoys told

Pakistan along with China and Russia is also pushing for the unfreezing of foreign reserves of Afghanistan. But the US is unlikely to heed the call as it wants to use the reserves as leverage over the Taliban.

A Foreign Office statement said Qureshi stressed that only a stable and broad-based government in Afghanistan, which reflects its diversity and preserves the gains made by the country since 2001, would be able to ensure that Afghan territory is never exploited by transnational terrorist groups ever again.

Qureshi noted that a new political reality had emerged in Afghanistan. While the Taliban should be held to their commitments, the international community has a moral obligation to help the Afghan people deal with the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. He hoped that the world would not repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan.

FM Qureshi also highlighted the grave human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

He underscored the importance of resolving the Kashmir dispute for lasting peace and stability in South Asia.

Secretary Blinken appreciated Pakistan’s support for the evacuation of US citizens and other nationals from Afghanistan and its continued efforts for peace in the region.

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