Islamabad: Pakistan has offered to host a summit of foreign ministers from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) next month to address the looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.
The United Nations has repeatedly warned that Afghanistan is on the brink of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and Qureshi said the OIC “must step in to help our Afghan brethren”.
“We should step up our collective efforts to alleviate the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people,” he said in a statement.
The foreign minister urged the OIC to step up to alleviate the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, provide immediate and sustained support to them, and continue to remain engaged with them for the well being and prosperity of Afghanistan. He said the first Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers was held in Islamabad, in January 1980, on the situation in Afghanistan.
“Next month we will once again gather in Islamabad to reaffirm our abiding solidarity with and support to the Afghan people. I am confident that the meeting would consider concrete steps to help address the humanitarian and economic challenges facing Afghanistan,” he hoped.
The foreign minister said that he looked forward to welcoming the OIC foreign minister for the session in Islamabad.
The Pakistan offer comes after a request from Saudi Arabia, which currently chairs the 57-member group.
Saudi Arabia has called on the OIC to hold an extraordinary meeting to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has offered to host the meeting on December 18. Saudi Arabia said it hopes that the meeting will come up with “appropriate mechanisms” to offer humanitarian aid to the Afghan people, coordinate related steps with the UN and its agencies as well as with international financial institutions with the aim of mitigating the impact of the humanitarian crisis on the Afghans.
It will likely be the biggest international gathering on Afghanistan since the Taliban’s return.
After the Taliban seized power on the heels of a US withdrawal in August, more than half of the country is facing “acute” food shortages.
The prospect of a long hard winter is raising the spectre of mass starvation and migration.
The international community has been wary of funding aid efforts through the new Taliban government, considered a pariah owing to its links to terrorism.
Saudi Arabia has warned that a potential economic meltdown in Afghanistan and deteriorating living standards there will not only result in a “humanitarian tragedy”, but will also result in more instability in Afghanistan and dire consequences for world peace.
The kingdom said it hopes that the OIC meeting will be a chance to stress the importance of Afghanistan’s stability and territorial integrity and repudiate all forms of terrorism.It also urged the Afghan government to include all Afghan factions, comply with international pacts and respect human rights, including women’s rights to education and work.