Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday said the world should release Afghan assets to stabilise the country’s economy and prevent the looming humanitarian crisis.
He made these remarks at a media conference alongside his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock who is on her maiden visit to Pakistan.
The foreign minister urged the international community to respond to the “grave humanitarian situation” in Afghanistan, which had put the lives of 40 million people at risk.
#PakGerman Joint Press Stakeout: FM @BBhutoZardari speaks about maintaining ties with the world, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and Kashmir, the sufferings of Ukraine, and the role Pakistan can play in the peace process as a progressive Muslim nation.
— PPP (@MediaCellPPP) June 7, 2022
“It is our hope that the Afghan authorities will be responsive to the expectations of the international community including inclusivity, respect, human rights for all including women, and take effective actions against terrorism.”
He added, “Pakistan has been facing the brunt of terrorism and extremism over the past many decades, and so has Afghanistan. It is in ours, and the world’s interests, that there is a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.”
For her part, Baerbock called on the international community to “give a loud and clear message” to the Afghan Taliban that they were “heading in the wrong direction.”
“The international community must stand united and tell the Taliban loud and clear that you are heading in the wrong direction. And as long as they go down this path, there is no room for normalisation and even recognition of Taliban as legitimate rulers,” Baerbock asserted.
“When we look across the border, the situation is dire, and the Taliban are taking the country to a downfall. Parents don’t know how to feed their children, girls are deprived of rights to education, women have been shunned from the society, dissenting voices are suppressed, and the economy is rendering to a halt.
She went on to say that Germany would not forget or abandon the people of Afghanistan and would continue to provide humanitarian aid and support the people who need it, especially women and girls.
She highlighted that Pakistan had been Germany’s “closest and most reliable partner,” appreciating Islamabad’s assistance in evacuating 14,000 Afghans to Germany following the US’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan in August last year.
Hinting at the Ukraine crisis, Bilawal stressed that Pakistan “does not want to be dragged in conflict particularly given that we have just experienced decade after decade of conflict in Afghanistan”.
“We once again, emphasise the indispensability of the immediate suspension of hostilities in the region and constructive engagement. Pakistan hopes a solution will be found through dialogue soon,” Bilawal hoped.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Baerbock said that Russia’s war had set dangerous precedents with restrictions on wheat exports and its capture of Ukrainian stocks, putting countries dependent on wheat imports at risk of food crisis.
The two foreign ministers also expressed grave concern over the deteriorating climate conditions of the world.
“When it comes to the climate crisis, we are all living in the same house and the roof is already on fire. We are running out of time and have now to act,” FM Baerbock highlighted.
Talking about Germany and Pakistan’s joint climate and energy partnership established last year, the German diplomat said, “We want to build on this partnership, move forward with the energy transition and lift our bilateral climatic relations to the next level.”
“I am optimistic that our meeting today has laid the groundwork for our cooperation in the future,” Baerbock said.