No country suffered from conflicts as much as Afghanistan: PM Islamic world pitches ways to aid desperately poor Afghans

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OIC countries pledge fund to stave off Afghanistan ‘chaos’

17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers Islamabad – December 19, 2021

90 foreign delegates including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Indonesia, Malaysia and other countries had participated.

The prime minister welcomed the delegates in Pakistan, saying it was ironic that Pakistan had hosted an OIC moot on Afghanistan 41 years ago as well.

“No country suffered from conflicts as much as Afghanistan,” he added.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has pledged to set up a humanitarian trust fund for Afghanistan as millions face hunger and poverty.

The crisis is causing alarm with billions of dollars in aid and assets frozen by the international community after the Taliban takeover of the country in August this year.

The prime minister Imran Khan said the OIC had a huge responsibility as it was our religious duty too to support the suffering Afghan brethren. The prime minister urged the world not to link their support to the Afghan people with the Taliban, but they should think of 40 million Afghans heading towards disaster.

“Unless action is taken immediately, Afghanistan is heading for chaos,” Prime Minister Imran Khan, of Pakistan  which is holding the summit, told a meeting of foreign ministers from the OIC.

“Any government when it can’t pay its salaries for its public servants, hospitals, doctors, nurses, any government is going to collapse but chaos suits no one, it certainly does not suit the United States.”

Economic meltdown

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said the world needed to separate the Taliban from ordinary Afghans.

“I speak to the United States specifically that they must delink the Afghanistan government from the 40 million Afghan citizens,” he said, “even if they have been in conflict with the Taliban for 20 years.”

He also urged caution in linking recognition of the new government to Western ideals of human rights.

“Every country is different… every society’s idea of human rights is different,” he said.

An OIC resolution released after the meeting said the Islamic Development Bank would lead the effort to free up assistance by the first quarter of 2022.

It also urged Afghanistan’s rulers to abide by “obligations under international human rights covenants, especially with regards to the rights of women, children, youth, elderly and people with special needs”.

The OIC meeting did not give the new Taliban government any formal international recognition and Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi was excluded from the official photograph taken during the event. Muttaqi said his government “has the right to be officially recognised”.

“The current Afghanistan government is cooperating with every foreign organisation,” he told reporters, adding that sanctions “must be removed”.

In a speech to delegates, he said the US freezing of assets “is a clear violation of the human rights of Afghans, and can be interpreted as enmity with an entire nation”.

Muttaqi reiterated the Taliban would not allow Afghanistan to be used as a base for attacks on other countries and he said no reprisals would be carried out against officials of the former government.

Economy in ‘free fall’

While some countries and organisations have begun delivering aid, a near-collapse of the country’s banking system has complicated their work.

United Nations’ Undersecretary-General on Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths was also present at the OIC meeting and warned that Afghanistan’s economy was “now in free fall”.

“If we don’t act decisively and with compassion, I fear this fall will pull the entire population with it,” he said in his remarks.

“Twenty-three million people are already facing hunger; health facilities are overflowing with malnourished children; some 70 percent of teachers are not getting paid and millions of children, Afghanistan’s future are out of school.”

Six-point strategy to fix Afghan issue

Pakistan also shared a six-point strategy to address Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis, food security, and economic revival besides its institutional capacity building to counter the threat of terrorism.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the deepening crisis could bring mass hunger, a flood of refugees and a rise in extremism.

“We cannot ignore the danger of complete economic meltdown,” he told the gathering, which also included Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi as well as delegates from the United States, China, Russia, the European Union and the UN.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said unlocking financial and banking channels was essential “because the economy can’t function and people can’t be helped without a banking system”.

Beyond immediate aid, Afghanistan needs help ensuring longer-term economic stability.

Much will depend on whether Washington is willing to unfreeze billions of dollars in central bank reserves and lift sanctions that have caused many institutions and governments to shy away from direct dealings with the Taliban.

However, the Taliban has faced heavy criticism for keeping women and girls out of employment and education and excluding broad sections of Afghan society from government.

They have also been accused of trampling on human rights and, despite their promise of amnesty, targeting officials of the former administration.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in an announcement on Twitter, said: “We thank Pakistan for hosting this vital meeting and inviting the global community to continue cooperating to support the Afghan people,” Blinken added.

The OIC Extraordinary Session on Afghanistan is a prime example of our collective determination and action to help those most in-need.

The conference was the biggest session on Afghanistan since the US-backed government fell in August and the Taliban returned to power.

The United States thanked Pakistan for accommodating a “vital” session of the Organisation of Islamic Council (OIC) on Afghanistan.

(SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES)

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