ISLAMABAD- On Saturday Pakistan hosted a conference of foreign ministers from Islamic countries later this month in a bid to avert a looming humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan.
On Sunday, December 19, a group of foreign ministers from the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation will meet in Islamabad to discuss options to help Afghans while negotiating the complex political realities of its Taliban-run government. Pakistan’s top diplomat said Friday.
Saudi Arabia has invited the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, which will be held in Islamabad on December 19. The summit will focus on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, where the UN has warned that almost 23 million people – or roughly 55 percent of the population – might suffer severe hunger, with about 9 million at risk of disaster as the poor, landlocked nation faces winter.
The summit, organised by the OIC, will be the largest international gathering on Afghanistan since the Taliban gained control of the country in mid-August, following a 20-year US-led foreign army withdrawal.
Taliban foreign minister Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi, as well as delegates from the United States, China, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations, are among the 70 delegations attending, according to Pakistani officials.
The OIC meeting is a commitment that doesn’t establish an authority acknowledgment of the Taliban system, said Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
He further mentions that the message to the gathering on Sunday is to “Please do not abandon Afghanistan. Please engage. We are speaking for the people of Afghanistan. We’re not speaking of a particular group. We are talking about the people of Afghanistan.”
Shah Mehmood additionally warned that if Afghans are left with out help, militant businesses along with al-Qaida and the nearby Islamic State associate will regroup and flourish amid the chaos.
The World Health Organization and United Nations agencies have warned of the humanitarian crisis affecting Afghanistan and its 38 million people. Hospitals are critically short of medicines, up to 95% of all families face food shortages, the poverty level is climbing to 90% and the Afghans, the national currency, are in free fall.
Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Wilson Centre’s Asian program in Washington, said OIC countries could do more and suggested that they work with their religious scholars and have them interact directly with the Taliban.
For now, it would be difficult for the West to engage with the Taliban, Kugelman said, adding that such an interaction would be tantamount to admitting defeat in the 20 years war
For the Taliban, it would be the “final satisfaction of being able to engage from the standpoint of victor,” he said
“Afghanistan is heading for turmoil unless action is taken immediately,” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is hosting the summit, told the OIC’s Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.