Friday Sep 24, 2021
NEW YORK: In his first meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday said that the world should not repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan.
Although the two top diplomats have been in touch with each other since January this year, this was their first face-to-face meeting since the Biden administration came into power. The meeting took place on the margins of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
They last spoke to each other by phone on August 16. Opening his meeting with Blinken, Qureshi said, "We have to find a way of collectively working to achieve our common objective, which is peace and stability."
The foreign minister, according to a press release issued by Pakistan's foreign office, said at the meeting that close engagement between Pakistan and the United States had always been mutually beneficial and a factor for stability in South Asia.
He reiterated Pakistan's desire for a balanced relationship with the United States that was anchored in trade, investment, energy and regional connectivity.
FM Qureshi also reiterated Pakistan's commitment to facilitating efforts for an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan.
He stressed that only a stable and broad-based government in Afghanistan, which reflects its diversity and preserves the gains made by the country since 2001, would be able to ensure that Afghan territory is never exploited by transnational terrorist groups ever again.
Noting that a new political reality had emerged in Afghanistan, the foreign minister said while the Taliban should be held to their commitments, the international community has a moral obligation to help the Afghan people deal with the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
He hoped that the world would not repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan.
The foreign minister highlighted the grave human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and underscored the importance of resolving the Kashmir dispute for lasting peace and stability in South Asia.
During the meeting, Secretary Blinken appreciated Pakistan's support for the evacuation of the US citizens and other nationals from Afghanistan, and its continued efforts for peace in the region, according to the press release.
Blinken said he believed the world was united on pressing the Taliban after speaking with Pakistan, China and Russia, key players with Afghanistan´s new rulers.
"I think there is very strong unity of approach and unity of purpose," Blinken told reporters.
"The Taliban says that it seeks legitimacy, that it seeks support, from the international community. The relationship that it has with the international community is going to be defined by the actions it takes."
Blinken reiterated US priorities for the Taliban including allowing Afghans and foreigners to leave, respecting the rights of women, girls and minorities, and not letting Afghanistan be used again by extremists such as Al-Qaeda.
The State Department said Blinken highlighted "the importance of coordinating our diplomatic engagement" in talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
The Taliban swept through Afghanistan last month after President Joe Biden withdrew US troops, saying there was no point in extending America's longest war beyond 20 years.