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Positive international engagement with Taliban imperative: PM Imran Khan

PM Khan in the SCO summit said that positive international engagement with Taliban imperative to circumvent terrorism and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. He added that Pakistan for decades has faced the brunt of spill-over of militancy from Afghanistan and supports a peaceful Afghan settlement.

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Positive international engagement with Taliban is imperative, claims Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday in the SCO summit held at Tajikistan capital Dushanbe.  He added that, “There is a rare opportunity to finally end the 40 years of war in Afghanistan. This moment should not be squandered,” which reiterates the fact that it is in the national interests of the West and all the regional and neighboring countries of Afghanistan that they ensure peace in the country.

He backed his assertion by advising that it would be unwise to spread negativity or indulge in propaganda at this critical juncture. “This will only serve to undermine the prospects for peace.”

The premier expressed these views on positive international engagement with Taliban while addressing the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS) Summit in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry were also present alongside the premier.

International engagement with Taliban possible if they fulfil their promises

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that the Taliban must fulfill the promises they have made in Afghanistan, and called on the international community to stand with the people of the war-torn country. He added that if Taliban stand firm to their pledges and in practice show their moderate face international engagement with Taliban will start in the form of international recognition and aid flowing to the country.

“The Taliban must fulfill the pledges made, above all for an inclusive political structure where all ethnic groups are represented. This is vital for Afghanistan’s stability,” he said.

The prime minister said that it was also important to ensure respect for the rights of all Afghans while ensuring that it is never again a safe haven for terrorists. Also, international engagement with Taliban will help them to rebuild the war-torn country.

Read more: Rebuilding Afghanistan: Why the Taliban need help

Pakistan supports a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, PM Khan

He said that Pakistan, which had suffered due to the spillover of conflict and instability in the neighbouring country, had an interest in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.

“We will continue to support a stable, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan,” he said.

Commenting on the situation in Afghanistan, PM Imran said that a “new reality” had been established after the Taliban takeover and withdrawal of foreign troops.

“That all this happened without bloodshed, without civil war, and without a mass exodus of refugees, should be a matter of relief.

“It is now in the international community’s collective interest to ensure that there is no renewed conflict in Afghanistan and the security situation is stabilized.”

The prime minister said that preventing a humanitarian crisis and an economic meltdown were “equally urgent priorities”.

“We must remember that the previous government depended heavily on foreign aid and its removal could lead to economic collapse,” he said, adding that now was the moment to stand with the Afghans “firmly and unequivocally”.

Read more: PM Khan and Raisi discuss the humanitarian situation of Afghanistan

International engagement with Taliban to circumvent terrorism threat

PM Imran said that as the world marked the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in the US, it was reminded that threats posed by terrorism still persist despite the international community’s best efforts. Thus, international engagement with Taliban is imperative to circumvent terrorist threats as diplomatically isolating a country is counter productive.

“Associating one religion with terrorism has enabled far right, populist and supremacist groups around the world to propagate, multiply and accumulate influence.

“In some cases, such extremist and bigoted ideologies have ascended to capture the state power in so-called democracies.

“The fight against terror would not be won if we ignore these threats and challenges — the biggest of which is state terrorism, perpetrated against people living under foreign occupation in disputed territories,” he said.

He highlighted that Pakistan had suffered for decades due to terrorism that was “planned, supported, financed and orchestrated by state entities from across our border”.

“Outside active zones of conflict, no other country has suffered more than Pakistan. We have suffered over 80,000 casualties and economic losses in excess of $150 billion.

“Yet, our resolve remains strong. We will continue to be a reliable and willing partner of the international community in the fight against terrorism and extremism,” he said.

SCO’s new role in Afghanistan situation

PM Imran said that addressing threats to international and regional peace was a topic of vital interest for the SCO. It is because the prime agenda of SCO is fighting terrorism, extremism and violence faced by regional countries. And SCO’s new role in Afghanistan is imperative in this regard as it is conducive for the region.

“We believe that implementation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions for the peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes is a necessary condition for peace, and indispensable for creating an environment of cooperation. And through international engagement with Taliban these bodies can exercise positive influence on the new Afghan government in political, social and economic spectrum, he added.

“Unilateral and illegal measures to change the status of disputed territories in violation of UNSC resolutions run counter to this objective.”

He said that such measures must be condemned and opposed firmly.

Read more: Pakistan to formulate a strategy for the rehabilitation of Afghanistan

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