ISLAMABAD: An inclusive government in Afghanistan could be a “reliable partner” for the international community, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Friday in a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, urging global partners to continue aid to the war-ravaged country.
Sherman arrived in Islamabad late on Thursday. She is the senior most US diplomat to visit the South Asian nation since President Joe Biden’s administration assumed office in Washington.
The Pakistan government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has encouraged the world to engage Afghanistan’s Taliban and provide economic support, although it has stopped short of backing recognition — a step opposed by the United States.
“We hope that the new setup in Afghanistan will work for peace and stability as well as for the betterment of all Afghan people,” Qureshi’s office said in a statement. “A representative of the Afghan people and a broad-based government can be a reliable partner for the international community.”
The foreign minister urged the international community to provide humanitarian and financial aid to Afghanistan and take “concrete steps to build a sustainable economy to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people.”
Qureshi also called for a “broad-based, long-term and lasting relationship” with the United States based on economic cooperation and the mutual promotion of peace in the region.
“The process of regular and systematic dialogue between Pakistan and the United States is essential for the promotion of our mutual interests as well as common regional goals,” the foreign minister added.
Sherman also met National Security Adviser Dr. Moeed Yusuf in Islamabad for talks focusing mostly on neighboring Afghanistan, Yusuf’s office said in a statement on Friday, with the Pakistani official saying the world needed to engage with the Taliban government.
“Pak-US delegations discuss bilateral issues and the changing situation in the region,” the statement said. “The meeting focused on economic cooperation, trade and security in the region and Afghanistan was discussed.”
Yusuf said the international community needed to “talk and liaise with Afghanistan’s new interim government.”
Sherman had called for Pakistan to take action against all radical groups ahead of her visit to Islamabad, which has sought reconciliation with militants both at home and in Afghanistan.
PM Khan, a longtime critic of US military campaigns, said in a recent interview that his government had opened talks with the indigenous Pakistani Taliban about laying down arms.
“We seek a strong partnership with Pakistan on counterterrorism and we expect sustained action against all militant and terrorist groups without distinction,” Sherman told reporters ahead of her trip to Pakistan.
“Both of our countries have suffered terribly from the scourge of terrorism and we look forward to cooperative efforts to eliminate all regional and global terrorist threats.”
Sherman has previously also praised Pakistan’s calls for an inclusive government in Afghanistan.
“We look to Pakistan to play a critical role in enabling that outcome,” she told media.
Pakistan, a Cold War ally of the United States, was one of only three nations to recognize the Taliban’s hard-line 1996-2001 regime but quickly backed the US-led war to oust them after the September 11, 2001 attacks.