Abandoning the people of Afghanistan would be a repeat of the mistakes of the past and a monumental failure on part of the international community as a whole, said Sajid Bilal, Ambassador of Pakistan in Egypt.
His remarks came during a press conference held on Sunday regarding the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) that will take place on 19 December in Islamabad.
“Continued engagement of the international community with Afghanistan is imperative. While provision of urgent and immediate humanitarian support remains a core priority, it is equally important to take steps to prevent economic meltdown in the country. If a humanitarian crisis is averted and economic stability is assured, peace in the country can be consolidated. This will also have a regional peace dividend,” Bilal stressed.
Pakistan is hosting the Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. The session is being convened upon the request of Saudi Arabia, the OIC Summit Chair. Egypt is set to participate in the CFM.
The ambassador revealed that a Senior Officials Meeting will precede the meeting on 18 December 2021. The member states and observer countries, the UN system, international financial institutions, and some non-member states including the P-5 (at the Special Envoys level) are invited to the session.
Bilal said that the extraordinary session is convened in view of the serious humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.
He pointed out that according to UN estimates, 60% of Afghanistan’s 38 million population faces “crisis levels of hunger” and the situation is getting worse every day. He continued that the advent of winter has further exacerbated the situation.
“If left unattended, the situation could aggravate into the world’s largest humanitarian crisis,” bilal said.
Talking about the objectives of CFM, Bilal mentioned that it aims to express solidarity of the Muslim nations with the Afghans, and to play a role in containing and reversing the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, especially in terms of food shortages, displacement of people and potential economic collapse.
Besides, the session seeks to galvanize international support for the provision of urgent and sustained humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.
The CFM will grab the attention of the broader international community to the situation in Afghanistan, Bilal said, noting that it is not only a humanitarian challenge but could also be a security crisis, spurring instability, causing mass exodus of refugees, and adversely affecting regional and international peace and security.
“As part of the Islamic Ummah (nation), we are bound by fraternal bonds of amity and brotherhood with the people of Afghanistan,” said Bilal.
He said that Pakistan believes that the OIC can lead the way in helping our Afghan brothers and sisters. Over the years, the OIC has extended consistent support to the people of Afghanistan. Today, more than ever before, the Afghan people need support from the international community including the OIC.
He continued that on its part, Pakistan has been engaged in intense diplomatic outreach. This is illustrated by the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s contacts with world leaders, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s visit to four neighbouring countries of Afghanistan (Iran, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan), establishment of the 6 neighbouring countries platform at Pakistan’s initiative, participation in the Moscow format meetings, and hosting of Troika plus meeting, to mention a few.
He mentioned that this is not the first time Pakistan has come forward to help its Afghan brethren. In January 1980, the first Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers was held in Islamabad, to consider the situation in Afghanistan.
Bilal said that the 17th Extraordinary Session is another manifestation of Pakistan’s consistent efforts and its leading role to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan and the continued well-being of the Afghan people.
He stressed that Pakistan believes that the extraordinary session would provide an opportunity to consider practical and concrete steps to help address the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people. Concrete pledges by the international community including the OIC Member States of financial and in-kind support would be important.
Ambassador Bilal concluded that Pakistan counts on the full support of the OIC Member States and the international community to extend all possible support to the Afghan people in this hour of dire need.
“On its part, Pakistan will continue to stand by Afghans,” Bilal stressed.