Pakistan says international community can’t ‘turn away’ from reality of Afghan Taliban

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in New York, U.S., September 22, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 23 September 2021

Pakistan says international community can’t ‘turn away’ from reality of Afghan Taliban

  • Pakistan’s government is proposing global powers develop a road map that leads to diplomatic recognition of Taliban
  • Expectations from Taliban include an inclusive government and assurances for human rights, especially for women and girls

UNITED NATIONS: Be realistic. Show patience. Engage. And above all, don’t isolate. Those are the pillars of an approach emerging in Pakistan to deal with the fledgling government that is suddenly running the country next door once again — Afghanistan’s resurgent, often-volatile Taliban.
Pakistan’s government is proposing that the international community develop a road map that leads to diplomatic recognition of the Taliban — with incentives if they fulfill its requirements — and then sit down face to face and talk it out with the militia’s leaders.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi outlined the idea Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s meeting of world leaders.
“If they live up to those expectations, they would make it easier for themselves, they will get acceptability, which is required for recognition,” Qureshi told the AP. “At the same time, the international community has to realize: What’s the alternative? What are the options? This is the reality, and can they turn away from this reality?”
He said Pakistan “is in sync with the international community” in wanting to see a peaceful, stable Afghanistan with no space for terrorist elements to increase their foothold, and for the Taliban to ensure “that Afghan soil is never used again against any country.”
“But we are saying, be more realistic in your approach,” Qureshi said. “Try an innovative way of engaging with them. The way that they were being dealt with has not worked.”
Expectations from the Taliban leadership could include an inclusive government and assurances for human rights, especially for women and girls, Qureshi said. In turn, he said, the Afghan government might be motivated by receiving development, economic and reconstruction aid to help recover from decades of war.
He urged the United States, the International Monetary Fund and other countries that have frozen Afghan government funds to immediately release the money so it can be used “for promoting normalcy in Afghanistan.” And he pledged that Pakistan is ready to play a “constructive, positive” role in opening communications channels with the Taliban because it, too, benefits from peace and stability.
This is the second time that the Taliban, who adhere to a strict version of Islam, have ruled Afghanistan. The first time, from 1996 to 2001, ended when they were ousted by a US-led coalition after the 9/11 attacks, which were directed by Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan.
During that rule, Taliban leaders and police barred girls from school and prohibited women from working outside the home or leaving it without a male escort. After they were overthrown, Afghan women still faced challenges in the male-dominated society but increasingly stepped into powerful positions in government and numerous fields.
But when the US withdrew its military from Afghanistan last month, the government collapsed and a new generation of the Taliban resurged, taking over almost immediately. In the weeks since, many countries have expressed disappointment that the Taliban’s interim government is not inclusive as its spokesman had promised.
While the new government has allowed young girls to attend school, it has not yet allowed older girls to return to secondary school, and most women to return to work despite a promise in April that women “can serve their society in the education, business, health and social fields while maintaining correct Islamic hijab.”
Pakistan, which shares a long border with Afghanistan, has a long and sometimes conflicted relationship with its neighbor that includes attempts to prevent terrorism there and, some say, also encouraging it, which Islamabad denies. The Islamabad government has a fundamental vested interest in ensuring that whatever the new Afghanistan offers, it is not a threat to Pakistan.
That, Qureshi says, requires a steady and calibrated approach.
“It has to be a realistic assessment, a pragmatic view on both sides, and that will set the tone for recognition eventually,” the Pakistani minister said. The good news, he said: The Taliban are listening, “and they are not insensitive to what is being said by neighbors and the international community.”
How does he know they’re listening? He says the interim government, drawn mostly from Afghanistan’s dominant Pashtun ethnic group, made some additions on Tuesday. It added representatives from the country’s ethnic minorities — Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras, who are Shiite Muslims in the majority Sunni Muslim country.
“Yes, there are no women yet,” Qureshi said. “But let us let the situation evolve.”
He stressed that the Taliban must make decisions in coming days and weeks that will enhance their acceptability.
“What the international community can do, in my view, is sit together and work out a roadmap,” Qureshi said. “And if they fulfill those expectations, this is what the international community can do to help them stabilize their economy. This is the humanitarian assistance that can be provided. This is how they can help rebuild Afghanistan, reconstruction and so on and so forth.”
He added: “With this roadmap ahead, I think an international engagement can be more productive.”
On Wednesday night, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said after a meeting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council that all five nations — the United States, China, Britain, Russia and France — want “an Afghanistan at peace, stable, where humanitarian aid can be distributed without problems or discrimination.”
He also described a hoped-for “Afghanistan where the rights of women and girls are respected, an Afghanistan that won’t be a sanctuary for terrorism, an Afghanistan where we have an inclusive government representing the different sectors of the population.”
Qureshi said there are different forums where the international community can work out the best way to approach the situation. In the meantime, he asserted, things seem to be stabilizing. Less than six weeks after the Taliban seized power on Aug. 15, he said, Pakistan has received information that the law-and-order situation has improved, fighting has stopped and many internally displaced Afghans are going home.
“That’s a positive sign,” Qureshi said.
He said Pakistan hasn’t seen a new influx of Afghan refugees — a sensitive issue for Pakistanis, who are highly motivated to prevent it. A humanitarian crisis, a foundering economy and workers who return to jobs and school but aren’t getting salaries and don’t have money could cause Afghans to flee across the porous border into Pakistan, which has suffered economically from such arrivals over decades of conflict.
Qureshi prescribed patience and realism. After all, he says, every previous attempt to stabilize Afghanistan has failed, so don’t expect new efforts to produce immediate success with the Taliban. If the United States and its allies “could not convince them or eliminate them in two decades, how will you do it in the next two months or the next two years?” he wondered.
Asked whether he had a prediction of what Afghanistan might be like in six months, Qureshi turned the question back on his AP interviewer, replying: “Can you guarantee me US behavior over the next six months?”


FATF begins new plenary session, will determine Pakistan’s ‘grey list’ status

Updated 9 sec ago

FATF begins new plenary session, will determine Pakistan’s ‘grey list’ status

  • The global dirty money watchdog put Pakistan on a list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their financial system in June 2018
  • The outcome of the plenary will be announced on Thursday after the meeting comes to an end

ISLAMABAD: The Financial Action Task Force announced the beginning of its new plenary on Tuesday in which it will take up a number of issues and determine if Pakistan can be removed from a list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their financial system.
The global dirty money watchdog placed Pakistan on its “grey list” of countries in June 2018 since it found vulnerabilities in its financial system which could be exploited for terror financing and money laundering.
Pakistan has tried to address the FATF concerns by implementing the recommended action plan, and its progress has also been acknowledged by the international body.
“The Financial Action Task Force Plenary has started,” the FATF announced in a Twitter post. “Due to COVID-19 it is a hybrid meeting, with delegates from around the world meeting virtually and in person.”


According to a statement issued by the global watchdog, “the outcomes of the FATF Plenary will be published on Thursday 21 October, at the close of the meeting.”
The meeting, which is taking place under the German presidency of Dr. Marcus Pleyer, will also be observed by global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund.
Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said earlier this year there was “no justification” for the FATF to keep his country on the grey list since it had taken extensive measures to curb money laundering and terror financing.
“We will have to see if the FATF is a technical forum or … being used for political purposes,” he added.
The global financial watchdog recently expressed satisfaction with Pakistan’s progress, though it also gave the country another action plan to fix a separate set of problems to strengthen the financial system further.


Russia, China, Pakistan willing to provide Afghanistan with aid, Moscow says

Updated 19 October 2021

Russia, China, Pakistan willing to provide Afghanistan with aid, Moscow says

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says official recognition of the Taliban is not under discussion for now
  • The United States did not join this round of talks in Moscow but said it planned to do so in the future

MOSCOW: Russia, China and Pakistan are willing to provide aid to Afghanistan, the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday, but Moscow said it was not yet ready to recognize the Taliban government.
The promise of humanitarian aid and economic support came after talks between Russian, Chinese and Pakistani officials, who will be joined by representatives of Afghanistan’s Islamist rulers at a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was withholding recognition from the Taliban while waiting for them to fulfil promises they made when they took power, including on the political and ethnic inclusivity of the new government.
Critics say the former rebel movement is backtracking on pledges not to sideline women and minorities, or persecute foes.
“Official recognition of the Taliban is not under discussion for now,” Lavrov told reporters. “Like most of other influential countries in the region, we are in contact with them. We are prodding them to fulfil the promises they made when they came to power.”
RUSSIA SEEKS LEADERSHIP
In mid-August, the Afghan government collapsed as the United States and allies withdrew troops after 20 years on the ground, leading the Taliban to seize power in a lightning offensive.
Russia, which fought its own disastrous war in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, is trying to seize the diplomatic initiative to avoid instability in the wider region that could damage its interests.
In particular it is worried by the possibility of Islamist militants seeping into the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, a region Moscow views as a defensive buffer.
Other Russian officials have tempered expectations for Wednesday’s talks. The United States said it would not join this round but planned to do so in the future.
Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on Afghanistan, said last week he did not expect any major breakthrough at the talks.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov described them as “an attempt to know what will happen in Afghanistan going forward.”


Pakistan, Iran discuss situation in Afghanistan, call for 'close coordination'

Updated 19 October 2021

Pakistan, Iran discuss situation in Afghanistan, call for 'close coordination'

  • The Pakistani foreign minister says sustained international engagement is essential to address the situation in Afghanistan
  • The Iranian FM says Tehran fully supports Pakistan’s initiative for a regional approach on the war-battered country

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi emphasized “close coordination” among Afghanistan’s neighboring states to ensure greater peace and stability in the region during a phone call with his Iranian counterpart on Tuesday.
According to the foreign office of Pakistan, Qureshi received a call from the Iranian foreign minister Dr. Hossein Amir Abdollahian who invited the Pakistan to participate in the second ministerial meeting of the neighboring countries of Afghanistan which is scheduled to be held in Tehran next week.
The Iranian official discussed the overall regional security situation during the conversation while pointing out that Tehran fully supported Pakistan’s initiative for a regional approach on Afghanistan.
“Foreign Minister Qureshi thanked his Iranian counterpart for the invitation and expressed the hope that the meeting would impart further impetus to the regional approach on the situation in Afghanistan,” the foreign office said in a statement. “He emphasized that close coordination was essential to help Afghanistan on path to peace, stability and development.”
Qureshi emphasized that sustained international engagement was essential in view of the evolving economic situation in Afghanistan.
“He expressed the hope that international community would ramp up provision of humanitarian assistance on urgent basis, in view of the upcoming winter season, and take steps to ensure economic stability in the country,” the statement added.
The first ministerial meeting of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries was held in September after Pakistan urged China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to come together and discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
The ministerial meeting was also preceded by a virtual meeting of the special representatives and envoys of the six neighboring states for Afghanistan.


Like rest of Pakistan, social media too lights up in Mawlid Al-Nabi colours

Updated 19 October 2021

Like rest of Pakistan, social media too lights up in Mawlid Al-Nabi colours

  • Several Pakistani social media users shared photos of the country’s bright decor to mark the occasion
  • The day began with 31-gun salute in Islamabad and 21-gun salute across provincial capitals

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan on Tuesday celebrated Mawlid Al-Nabi, the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), with cities around the country lit up with beautiful colors.
The day began with 31-gun salute in the federal capital, Islamabad, and 21-gun salute across the provincial capitals.
The Prophet’s birth anniversary is observed with great religious zeal on the 12th day of Rabi Al-Awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.
However, Prime Minister Imran Khan requested the nation to celebrate the occasion this year like “never before” in a video message shared across his official social media accounts on October 16, 2021.

President Arif Alvi also maintained it was imperative for Muslims to follow the example of the Prophet (PBUH) since it was “the key to their success” in this world and the hereafter.
“The only solution to all the challenges facing the Muslim ummah, including anarchy, hypocrisy, oppression and injustice, can be found in the life of the Prophet (PBUH),” he said.


Australia’s High Commissioner to Pakistan Geoffrey Shaw shared on his official Twitter account that his local friends had sent him sweet rice, a traditional dish people serve while observing Mawlid Al-Nabi.

 


The country’s ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party shared a shot of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence decked out to mark the occasion.

 

 

 


A Twitter user from Rawalpindi shared a number of images, showing bright lights in mosques, market and alleyways.

 

 

 

 

 


Journalist Ali Tanoli shared images of Islamabad from the night before, showing landmarks like Faisal Mosque and Bari Imam lit up.

 

 


Twitter user Syed Hashir Shah shared photos of lights hanging above bustling markets in Karachi, Pakistan.

 

 

 


Journalist Waseem Abbasi posted the photo of Pakistan’s largest Rabi Al-Awwal cake ordered by the authorities in the federal capital on the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

 

 


Discover Pakistan TV, the country’s first tourism-dedicated outlet, also shared colorful shots from across the country.

 

 

 

 


PM Khan promises rule of law as nation celebrates Mawlid Al-Nabi

Updated 19 October 2021

PM Khan promises rule of law as nation celebrates Mawlid Al-Nabi

  • Says will strive to create welfare state in following the teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)
  • Birthday of Prophet (PBUH) is celebrated on the 12th day of Rabi Al-Awwal by Muslims all over the world

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday his government wanted to establish the rule of law in the country by following the principles established by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which required a state to hold its powerful citizens accountable for their misdeeds as well.
Khan made the comment while addressing a national conference in Islamabad as people across the country celebrated Mawlid Al-Nabi – or the birth anniversary of the Prophet (PBUH) – with traditional religious fervor.
The Prophet’s birth anniversary is observed on the 12th day of Rabi Al-Awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar, by Muslims all over the world.
The prime minister emphasized in his speech no society could progress without maintaining equal standards of justice for everyone.
“The central pillars of the State of Madinah established by our Prophet (PBUH) were morality and rule of law,” he noted. “A welfare state always looks after its people irrespective of their status. We will have to make the powerful abide by the laws of this country. Otherwise, we will not be able to fix the system.”
He said a leader should be honest and trustworthy, adding that the two qualities were also quite prominent in the Prophet’s own personality.
Khan reiterated he was striving to implement in his country the political ideals that were central to the State of Madinah.
“I will keep on fighting for the rule of law in the country until my last breath,” he continued. “We have to bring the powerful within the ambit of the rule of law.”
The prime minister said his government had formed a special authority to apprise the people about the life and teachings of the Prophet of Islam (PBUH).
“Children have access to all types of information through mobile phones these days,” he said. “The challenge is to show them the right path and direction. The newly established authority will provide guidance to our youth by showing them different aspects of the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”
He added the objective of setting up an Islamic welfare state that followed the principles of the State of Madinah had been there in his party’s manifesto for 25 years.
“Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gave women right to property which they did not have it before,” he said. “The State of Madinah also introduced the concept of providing pension to older people.”
Earlier, while addressing the first session of the conference, President Dr. Arif Alvi emphasized the need for promoting unity among Muslims in the light of the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH).
“The last Prophet preached not to spread discord and said that Muslims were united like a single body,” Alvi said, adding that the revolution that emerged from the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah had truly transformed the world.
“I have a firm belief that change in Pakistan and the Muslim world will once again come from the mosque which holds special significance in the character building of a nation,” he maintained.
A special documentary on the life of the Prophet (PBUH) was also screened at the conference.