Saudi delegates reached Islamabad on Friday to attend an extraordinary session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers, scheduled to take place on December 19, to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
The moot was proposed by Saudi Arabia last month, following which Pakistan had welcomed the move and offered to host the session.
A delegation comprising Saudi Arabia’s Afghan affairs department head Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Saud al-Kabir and Prince Jiluwi bin Turki arrived in Islamabad on Friday morning. The delegates were received by Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al Malki and senior officials from the Foreign Office (FO).
Later, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told media persons in Islamabad that 90 delegates invited to the summit had reached Islamabad and more were expected tomorrow.
Among those who had arrived in Islamabad was Islamic Development Bank (IDB) President Dr Mohammed bin Sulaiman Al Jasser, who was welcomed by the FO.
Upon reaching the capital, the IDB president commended Pakistan bringing OIC countries at one platform for stability in Afghanistan.
Speaking to state-run Radio Pakistan at Islamabad International Airport, he acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts for extending “every possible assistance to Afghanistan”.
All OIC countries held Pakistan’s contribution in this regard in high esteem, Al Jasser said, adding that the participation of OIC ministers in the upcoming conference was an expression of their resolve for peace in Afghanistan.
OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha had also reached Islamabad on Thursday night to attend the summit. He was welcomed by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib.
Taha had said on the occasion that the OIC session would provide an opportunity to Muslim countries to discuss ways to help Afghan people, who were facing a looming humanitarian crisis.
According to Radio Pakistan, he said it was high time that Muslim countries considered ways to help their Afghan brethren at this critical time.
He also appreciated Pakistan’s role in facilitating the evacuation of foreigners from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power in Kabul and expressed the hope that Islamabad would continue to play a positive role in helping the people of Afghanistan.
The OIC secretary general met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday, with the latter tweeting: “A pleasure to welcome OIC Secretary General H.E Hissein Brahim Taha to Pakistan. I look forward to working closely for the success of the 17th Extraordinary Session of the CFM on Afghanistan.”
‘World must not abandon Afghanistan’
Earlier in the day, the foreign minister also held a meeting with media persons to discuss the OIC summit.
He told media persons that the Afghan delegation attending the moot would be led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West would also attend the summit.Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi interacts with media persons in Islamabad on Friday. — Photo by Naveed Siddiqui
The foreign minister said the world must not abandon Afghanistan, warning that if a humanitarian crisis was not averted in the war-torn country, its economy would collapse.
He further stated that in case of a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the country’s neighbours, including Pakistan, and European Union states would have to prepare for another influx of refugees.
Qureshi said Pakistan was playing its role in providing assistance to Afghanistan and urged other countries to do the same.
In this regard, he highlighted that 75 per cent of Afghanistan’s budgetary requirements were met via external support and now that Afghan assets had been frozen, the world needed to revisit its approach.
“Why should Afghan women and children suffer?” he remarked.
He added that the Afghan government was ready to reopen schools in the country but lacked resources to pay salaries to its employees.
“We are expecting some financial support from OIC member states,” he added.
Qureshi announced that a meeting of Troika Plus — comprising Pakistan, China, Russia and the United States — P5 countries and Germany, Japan, Italy and Australia would also be held in Islamabad to discuss the Afghan situation.
He added that Pakistan had also constituted a platform comprising six countries from the region, and its first virtual meeting would be held in Islamabad, second in Iran and third in Beijing.
A formal announcement for the OIC moot was made by Foreign Minister Qureshi on December 4, who had said that the purpose of the summit was to avert a humanitarian crisis rearing its head in Afghanistan following the US withdrawal.
Addressing a press conference, he had said the session would draw world leaders’ attention towards the fact that a lack of prompt response would lead to food shortages for some 22.8 million people and affect about 3.2m children with malnutrition in Afghanistan.
He had added that the conference would help mobilise resources to support Afghanistan.
The foreign minister had said the coming extraordinary session of the OIC was being held in Pakistan after a gap of 41 years, for which the special representatives of P5 countries, vice-president of European Union, and representatives of relevant UN agencies and the World Bank had also been invited.
“Germany, Japan, Canada and Australia have also been invited to help develop an international consensus on bringing Afghanistan out of crisis,” he had said.
The foreign minister had further stated that Pakistan would invite a high-level delegation from Afghanistan so that they could engage and be engaged by the world leaders to know about ground realities.
Ahead of the foreign delegates’ arrival, Qureshi said on Thursday that with members of the international community and the Taliban at the same platform, the coming meeting of the OIC in Islamabad would prove to be a stepping stone in finding solutions to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
The foreign minister said by hosting the event, Pakistan was playing a positive role and bridging the communication gap between the world and the Taliban.
He confirmed that special representatives from the United States, Russia and China would attend the moot.
According to Radio Pakistan, the FO has finalised all arrangements for welcoming foreign delegates invited to attend the summit.