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OIC diplomats arrive as Afghans face humanitarian catastrophe

Pakistan is all set to host the Extraordinary Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad on Sunday with a one-point agenda to avert humanitarian catastrophe and economic collapse of Afghanistan.

The extraordinary meeting of top OIC diplomats is also being attended by the US, Germany, Japan, EU, Australia, France as well as representatives of international financial institutions, thus making it the biggest international gathering on Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power in August.

The acting Afghan foreign minister is expected to lead the Taliban delegation at the conference, providing him the rare opportunity to put across the group’s perspective before the representatives of countries that matter the most.

Pakistan is hoping the OIC meeting would lead not just to mere commitments but concrete steps for assisting the people of Afghanistan, who are facing dire humanitarian situation.

The international aid agencies and the UN have warned that nearly 23 million Afghans are facing acute food shortage, while about a million children could die this winter if urgent help does not reach Afghanistan.

The other issue is the restoration of economic assistance and banking channels that were not functional since the Taliban takeover as Western countries withheld assistance while the US froze $9.5 billion assets of the Afghan Central Bank.

A Foreign Office statement said on Friday that the session was being convened at the initiative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the chair of the OIC. Pakistan had welcomed the call and offered to host the session.

Besides foreign ministers from the OIC member states and observers, participants would also include special invitees from the United Nations system, international financial institutions and some non-member states, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Germany, Italy and Japan, as well as the EU. The Afghan Interim government would also be represented at the CFM.

“The meeting is being convened in the backdrop of an aggravating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. Besides expressing solidarity with the Afghan people, the CFM is also expected to explore avenues for containing and reversing the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, especially in terms of food shortages, displacement of people and a potential economic collapse,” the statement read.

“Pakistan has always maintained that continued engagement of the international community with Afghanistan is imperative and hosting of the CFM is another manifestation of Pakistan’s intense diplomatic outreach to consolidate support for the people of Afghanistan,” it added.

The 17th extraordinary session reflects Pakistan’s abiding commitment and consistent efforts to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan and the continued well-being of the Afghan people. The session would provide an opportunity to consider practical and concrete steps to help address the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan are founding members of the OIC. Over the years, Pakistan and the OIC have extended consistent support to the people of Afghanistan. The first Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers was also held in Islamabad, in January 1980, also to consider the situation in Afghanistan. The last CFM hosted by Pakistan was in 2007.”

The Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) will be preceded by the senior officials meeting on Saturday (today).

Source: Express Tribune

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