NEW YORK: Pakistan is urging the international community to adopt a three-pronged approach to Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, quickly deliver aid to 14 million people facing a hunger crisis, promote an inclusive government, and work with the Taliban to counter terrorism in the country.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations Munir Akram laid out the vision of the government of Pakistan for a future international role in Afghanistan in an interview on Thursday, saying Pakistan had been in contact with regional countries and the broader global community on working together on the three priorities.
He stressed that humanitarian help must be the top priority and called it “very unhelpful” for Afghanistan’s assets to have been frozen, by the United States and others, because this leaves the Taliban with no access to dollars or foreign exchange to buy food or import oil.
“There will be inflation. The prices in Afghanistan will rise further. The poverty level will rise,” Akram warned. “You will then have a refugee crisis which is exactly what the West is afraid of.” He called his country’s influence on the Taliban “exaggerated”, though he said Pakistan had “a fairly relaxed policy” towards the three million Afghan refugees on its soil.
“We know better than others that you cannot force the Afghans to do anything, and I think the experience of the last 40 years has indicated that nobody actually from the outside can dictate to the Afghans,” he said. “So, persuasion, yes. Talks with them, consultations, yes. But it’s very difficult to persuade the Afghans.”
Pakistan initially brought the Taliban to the negotiating table to get them to stop the onslaught and go back to talks. Akram said Pakistan’s prime minister and army chief went to Kabul to talk to former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and invited the leadership to Pakistan.
But Ghani “remained intransigent about reaching a political settlement with the Taliban” and the Taliban also had “a very strong” position against negotiations, he said.
With the Taliban now in control of the country, Akram said Pakistan hopes its leaders “will listen to a sincere friend in trying to form an inclusive government” where all the ethnic groups and minorities including Tajiks, Hazaras and Shiite Muslims are represented.
“I think that if they are responsible, they will see the wisdom of inclusive government, and hopefully, we will have a government which can bring actually peace to the country,” he said in the virtual interview from Geneva.