ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Tuesday his country would continue to help the international community with the evacuation of people who previously worked with various foreign governments in Afghanistan.
The foreign minister made the statement while holding a joint press conference with German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock who arrived in Islamabad earlier today on an official visit.
The two officials held wide-ranging discussions on trade, investment, defense, climate change and people-to-people contacts while also holding a detailed conversation about the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan.
“I have assured the [visiting] foreign minister of Pakistan’s continued support to foreign governments, [European Union] and international organizations engaged in the evacuation of their personnel from Afghanistan,” Bhutto-Zardari said.
He informed that Pakistan had already assisted with the evacuation of over 90,000 people belonging to 24 international countries.
“We support a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan contributing to stability and regional connectivity,” he continued. “It is our hope that the Afghan authorities would be responsive to the international community’s expectations regarding inclusivity, respect for human rights for all Afghans, including women, and take effective actions against terrorism.”
The Pakistani foreign minister noted the international community should also play a role in preventing a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
He pointed out that Germany was Pakistan’s largest trading partner with the European Union and the fifth largest export destination internationally.
Bhutto-Zardari said Germany was also the seventh largest foreign direct investor in Pakistan, adding there were 35 German companies currently investing in his country.
Speaking at the occasion, the German foreign minister maintained the Taliban had brought “incredible suffering and hunger to the people in Afghanistan,” adding the crisis had had its consequences for much of the world.
“The international community must stand united and tell the Taliban loud and clear: You are heading in the wrong direction,” she said, adding: “As long as they go down this path, there is no room for normalization and even less for recognition of the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of the country.”
She added that her country had not forgotten or abandoned the people of Afghanistan and would continue to provide humanitarian aid and support to the people who needed it the most.
“Afghans who have worked with German institutions or committed themselves to the democratic cause and human rights deserve our protection,” she added.
“Pakistan has been our closest and most reliable partner in this regard. Through our close cooperation over the last months, more than 14,000 Afghans who were particularly at risk could travel via Pakistan to Germany to start a new life in safety and without fear.”
The visiting foreign minister expressed her hope that Pakistan and Germany would further deepen their bilateral relations.
Discussing bilateral trade and investment, she said that greater economic integration required common values and standards, adding that EU trade preferences required full implementation of human rights commitments from other countries.