On 8 September 2021, at the initiative of Pakistan, an online ministerial meeting of the neighboring countries of Afghanistan was held.
The videoconference, chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, was attended by the Foreign Ministers Wang Yi of China, Hossein Amir Abdullahien of Iran, Sirodjiddin Muhriddin of Tajikistan, Abdulaziz Kamilov of Uzbekistan and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Vepa Hadjiev.
“The new situation requires discarding old lenses, developing new insights, and proceeding with a realistic and pragmatic approach. At the center of our endeavors must remain the well-being of the Afghan people, who have suffered enormously due to conflict and instability for over 40 years”, the Pakistani foreign minister stressed in his opening remarks.
Recalling his recent visit to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran, Qureshi noted that consultations with these countries highlighted the following issues that would require a coordinated approach, as the situation evolves:
- Security situation along the borders
- Prevention of Afghan soil from being used by terrorist entities
- Possibility of fresh influx of refugees
- Containing drug trafficking and transnational crimes
- Stemming any spread of extremist elements
- Challenges relating to COVID-19 pandemic
- Impediments to regional connectivity
At the same time, the foreign minister of Pakistan enumerated the benefits that peace in Afghanistan would bring to the countries of the region. These include economic stability and improvement in living standards, realization of connectivity projects, and enhanced regional economic integration.
Islamabad called on the countries neighboring Afghanistan to guide efforts in five directions.
“First, we must affirm our full support and solidarity with the Afghan people. Second, we must reaffirm our full commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. Third, we must stress that Afghan issues should have Afghan solutions. Fourth, we must make clear that Afghan soil should not be allowed to be used against any country. Fifth, we must underscore the multi-ethnic nature of Afghan society and stress the importance of national reconciliation”, – told Qureshi.
Moreover, Pakistan proposes to turn the platform of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries into a regular consultative mechanism, where Afghanistan could be invited in the future.
In general, the gathering expressed support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, as well as commitment to ensuring peace, security, national reconciliation, the principles of non-interference and sustainable development of Afghanistan.
At the same time, it was emphasized that the future of the country should be determined by the Afghan people themselves.
The sides expressed their desire to further strengthen cooperation and good-neighborly relations between neighboring countries in the name of promoting peace, security, stability, regional connectivity and economic integration. /// nCa, 9 September 2021 [photo credit – MFA Uzbekistan]