Our collective efforts can halt economic meltdown in Afghanistan: Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that the world’s collective efforts can halt economic meltdown in Afghanistan, stressing that a collapse will yield instability, conflict, and a refugee influx into neighboring countries.

Qureshi was addressing the ministerial meeting of Afghanistan’s close neighbours attended by foreign ministers and political representatives of China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

Addressing the meeting, Qureshi said that the sudden withdrawal of foreign assistance has created a huge gap in Afghanistan, adding that reportedly, the Afghan economy has already contracted by 30%, and that all this is a recipe for avoidable disaster.

“Pakistan, on its part, is trying its best to help stem the downside. We have continued to provide urgently needed food stuff and medicines to Afghanistan,” he said.

He further said that Pakistan has also revised customs duty on Afghan products to facilitate imports from the country. He noted that the pledges of more than $1.2 billion by the United Nation have not been converted into disbursement.

“It is equally important that Afghanistan is allowed access to its frozen assets to reverse the economic downturn,” Qureshi stated.

“​Our collective efforts can halt economic meltdown. An economic collapse will yield instability, conflict, and a refugee influx into neighboring countries and onward to other regions.”

Qureshi added that the recent attacks on mosques in Kunduz and Kandahar are a grim reminder of the challenges in the fight against terrorist elements.

“It is important that we remain vigilant of terrorist entities working against return of peace to Afghanistan,” the FM said.

“The Afghan Interim government must ensure that there is no safe haven for such elements and that Afghan territory is not used to harm any country.”

Qureshi called for devising a long-term road map to advance the agenda of political engagement, economic integration and regional connectivity with Afghanistan. He also called on the international community to remain positively engaged and intensify provision of humanitarian assistance, and continue to convince the Taliban to take the next steps, while incentivising this process.