Islamabad, 11 November 2021 (TDI): “Troika Plus has become an important forum for engagement with Afghan authorities. It will express support for an inclusive government, discuss ways to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan as well as the protection of human rights, particularly women’s rights”, said a Pakistani official.

Senior diplomats from the United States, China, and Russia met in Islamabad on November 11 (Thursday) to discuss the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.

This is Troika Plus’s first full-fledged meeting since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan.

The most recent meeting took place on August 11 in Doha, with the former special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad representing the US.

On October 19, Russia convened another conference in Moscow, but the US declined due to “logistical reasons.” Later, Khalilzad was replaced by Thomas West, and the United States expressed its willingness to attend Pakistan’s Troika Plus conference in November.

The meeting was attended by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s Special Representative to Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq, US State Department’s Special Representative and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Afghanistan Thomas West, Russia’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov and China’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Yao Jing.

International engagement with Afghanistan crucial to avert civil war

The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, speaking at the opening session of the two-day Troika Plus meeting held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said engagement with Afghanistan was critical because no one wanted to see a return to civil war and economic collapse, which would exacerbate instability.

“Everyone wants to see terrorist elements operating within Afghanistan dealt with appropriately, and we all want to avoid a major refugee crisis,” he said.

He stated that peace in Afghanistan was crucial not only for Pakistan but also for the rest of the globe.

People were suffering from the effects of a terrible drought, he said, and any further decline would severely constrain the capacity of the next administration to operate the nation.

“It is consequently vital for the international community to bolster the provision of humanitarian assistance on an urgent basis,” he said, adding that the health, education, and municipal services sectors required immediate attention.

Allowing Afghanistan to access its frozen cash, according to the foreign minister, would complement efforts to revive economic activity and propel the Afghan economy toward stability and sustainability.

Similarly, he stated that the UN and its agencies must be pressed to develop ways to reach out to ordinary Afghans and assist in the stabilisation of the situation.

Pakistan, as a close neighbour, has a direct stake in Afghanistan’s peace and stability, according to Qureshi. We consider every ethnic minority in Afghanistan significant in the country’s final destiny since we share a common past and history, he said.

He stated that Pakistan had already made some initiatives to make life easier for Afghans.

He noted that during his recent visit to Kabul, he tried to grasp the expectations of the new Afghan government from the international community.

“It also allowed us to communicate our assessment with the Taliban leadership and emphasise the international community’s expectations of them,” he said.

“We believe the Taliban want to interact because they want international acceptance and support,” he added.

Troika Plus Meeting Details

Meanwhile, according to a statement released by the Foreign Office, the extended Troika meeting addressed the latest situation in Afghanistan and included a side meeting with Afghan Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, who is on his debut visit to Pakistan.

According to the handout, the four participating countries — China, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States — voiced serious concern over Afghanistan’s dire humanitarian and economic condition and reaffirmed their unshakable support for Afghans.

The states also referred to pertinent UN Security Council resolutions on Afghanistan, such as support for the country’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.

The expanded Troika praised the Taliban’s continued commitment to allowing safe transit to and from Afghanistan for anyone who wishes to travel there, and urged quick progress, as winter approaches, on plans to build airports around the country that can accept commercial air traffic, the statement said.

According to the statement, the meeting “called on the Taliban to work with fellow Afghans to take steps to form an inclusive and representative government that respects the rights of all Afghans and provides for the equal rights of women and girls to participate in all aspects of Afghan society.”

The countries also decided to maintain pragmatic engagement with the Taliban in order to urge the implementation of “moderate and wise policies” that will help Afghanistan attain stability and prosperity as soon as feasible, according to the statement.

The meeting emphasised that providing full and equal access to education for women and girls at all levels is an international commitment, and urged the Taliban to step up efforts to give full and equal access to education across the country.

The meeting, on the other hand, praised the international community for providing essential humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Simultaneously, the gathering expressed deep concern about a possible economic collapse, a rapidly growing humanitarian catastrophe, and a new refugee wave.

The participants urged the Taliban to provide unrestricted humanitarian access to Afghanistan in order to respond to the escalating situation.

The forum praised the UN’s role and asked it and its specialised agencies to develop programmes to carry out the international community’s pledges to help the Afghan people.

The meeting condemned recent terrorist acts in Afghanistan and urged the Taliban to “sever all relations with all international terrorist organisations, dismantle and remove them swiftly, and deny room to any terrorist organisation operating inside the country,” according to a statement.

The Troika underlined their belief that the Taliban will keep their promise to prevent terrorists from using Afghan territory against its neighbours, other nations in the region, and the rest of the globe, according to the statement.

The states also asked the Taliban to adopt a “friendly” attitude toward neighbouring countries and to adhere to Afghanistan’s international legal commitments, according to the statement.

According to the statement, the summit also urged the international community to take tangible efforts to assist Afghanistan in combating Covid-19.

For a Joint Statement on the Extended “Troika” on Peaceful Settlement in Afghanistan, click here.