ISLAMABAD: US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Thomas West, arrived in Islamabad on Saturday and said a special Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit on Afghanistan being held in Islamabad today, Sunday, was a “timely and important initiative” at which the Afghan people would be at the “center” of US considerations.
Pakistan will be rallying Muslim and other countries to help Afghanistan stave off an economic and humanitarian disaster at the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers called by Saudi Arabia and being held at the Parliament House in Islamabad.
“Pleased to be in Islamabad for an Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, focused on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan,” West said on Twitter. “A timely and important initiative.”
He added: “While we continue clear-eyed diplomacy with the Taliban — on human rights, terrorism, and educational access, among many other issues — the Afghan people will remain at the center of our considerations.”
On Saturday, senior Taliban officials appealed for international help to combat a deepening economic crisis that has fueled fears of another refugee exodus from Afghanistan.
The comments, at a special meeting to mark the UN’s international migrants day, underlined the new Taliban government’s push to engage with the world community, four months after they seized power in Kabul.
The movement’s deputy Foreign Minister, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, said it was the responsibility of countries like the United States, which have blocked billions of dollars of central bank reserves, to help Afghanistan recover after decades of war.
“The impact of the frozen funds is on the common people and not Taliban authorities,” he told the conference, attended by representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the United Nations refugee organization.
UN bodies estimate that millions of Afghans could face hunger over the winter without urgent help, but aid has been hampered by international unwillingness to engage directly with the Taliban, in part because of concern over rights for women and political inclusion.
The abrupt withdrawal of foreign aid following the Taliban victory has pushed Afghanistan’s fragile economy close to collapse. Millions are without work and the banking system is only partially functional.