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India discusses Afghanistan with Central Asia, Pakistan hosts special OIC meet same day

India builds ‘regional consensus’ with Central Asian countries on Afghanistan. Concurrently, Pakistan creates fund under Islamic Development Bank at a special OIC session.

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New Delhi: India Sunday said it has been able to build a “regional consensus” with five Central Asian countries on Afghanistan and the Taliban regime there. Concurrently, Pakistan hosted a special session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to address the economic crisis in the war-torn country.

For the 3rd meeting of the India-Central Asia Dialogue, foreign ministers from all the five Central Asian countries — Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyz Republic — were in attendance in New Delhi. The situation in Afghanistan and the mounting economic and humanitarian crisis there took centre stage at the meet.

“We all also share deep-rooted historical and civilizational ties with Afghanistan. Our concerns and objectives in that country are similar: a truly inclusive and representative government, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, ensuring unhindered humanitarian assistance and preserving the rights of women, children and the minorities. We must find ways of helping the people of Afghanistan,” External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said at the meet.

According to a joint statement, the ministers reiterated their “strong support for a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan while emphasizing the respect for sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs”. 

All of them “unequivocally” stated their support for UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021), which demands that Afghan territory not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts and calls for concerted action against all terrorist groups.

Also read: This will be India’s century, says Australian envoy O’Farrell, talks of more military exercises

OIC special session on Afghanistan

On Sunday, Islamabad too played hosts. It held an extraordinary session of the OIC, which decided to establish a humanitarian ‘Trust Fund’ under the aegis of the Islamic Development Bank that will serve to channelise assistance to Afghanistan, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi announced.

The Central Asian countries were in attendance at the OIC meet too.

A final statement issued at the end of the meeting pushed for unfreezing of the Afghan Central Bank reserves worth around $10 billion parked overseas.

The body also appointed a point person who will coordinate economic and political engagement between the OIC and the Taliban government.

The OIC, along with the Islamic Development Bank, also decided to devise a roadmap for mobilising relevant fora to unlock financial and banking channels to resume flow of humanitarian assistance as well as devise a mechanism for disbursement of urgent and sustained humanitarian assistance, with the UN. It also decided to launch an Afghanistan Food Security Programme.

The OIC has 57 Islamic nations as members. However, none has yet recognised the Taliban government that came to power in Kabul on 15 August.

UN, US and EU also present at OIC meet

The OIC session was attended not just by the members of the grouping but also by UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West, and European Union Special Envoy for Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson. All three held separate meetings with the Taliban delegation on the sidelines of the OIC meet.

In his meeting with West, the Taliban interim government’s Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi discussed “in detail the current economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan”, according to Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesperson of the foreign ministry.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and UAE sent their diplomats back to Kabul, for which Muttaqi thanked the respective governments.

“The sanctions on Afghanistan and freezing of assets by the United States of America is harming the Afghans, is a clear violation of the human rights of Afghans, and can be interpreted as enmity with an entire nation,” Muttaqi said in his speech at the meet. 

“We urge participants of this great gathering to remind US officials that persecution of Afghans and weakening of the Afghan government is not in the interest of anyone. This is not conducive to improving ties. Such actions harm American prestige and exacerbate the refugee crisis, the detrimental effects of which will not spare the wider world,” he said.

“We call on members of the OIC that have deferred reopening their embassies in Kabul to reopen their missions, and we shall welcome them as a friend nation,” he added.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

Also read: Jaishankar voices concern over Afghan situation, lauds Tajikistan’s help in evacuating Indians


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