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PAKISTAN OFFERS TO HOST OIC FMS ON AFGHANISTAN

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Pakistan has offered to host the extraordinary meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the current situation in Afghanistan after Saudi Arabia, the OIC summit chair, took the initiative to convene the meeting of top diplomats of the 57-member body.

“Pakistan fully endorses the initiative. We have also offered to host the meeting, in Islamabad, on December 17, 2021. We are confident that OIC member states will endorse the offer,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in a statement on Monday.

He said Saudi Arabia took the important initiative to request an extraordinary session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers to consider the situation in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan is a founding member of the OIC. As part of the Ummah, we are bound by fraternal bonds of amity and brotherhood with the people of Afghanistan,” Qureshi said.

The OIC foreign ministers’ meeting is being convened at a time when the humanitarian situation is worsening in Afghanistan. According to the World Food Program (WF), around 23 million Afghans are on the brink of starvation if they are provided urgent assistance.

The precarious economic situation has also compounded the problems of the Taliban government, which is struggling to pay salaries to the government employees. Last week Germany and the Netherlands pledged to pay salaries to people working in Afghanistan's health and education sector.

The Taliban government is urging the US to unfreeze $9.5 assets of the Afghan central bank to help revive the country’s fragile economy. But Washington, despite calls by other countries including Pakistan, China, Russia and others, is not ready to give the Taliban government access to the assets.

Against this backdrop, the foreign minister said Afghan brothers and sisters need the help of OIC more than ever before.

“As you are aware, Afghanistan currently faces a serious humanitarian situation – millions of Afghans including women and children confront an uncertain future due to shortage of food, medicine, and other essential life supplies. The advent of winter has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis,” he said.

He urged the OIC to step in and help the “Afghan brethren”. “We should step up our collective efforts to alleviate the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people, provide immediate and sustained support to them, and continue to remain engaged with them for the well-being and prosperity of Afghanistan.”

The 1st Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers was held in Islamabad, in January 1980, on the situation in Afghanistan.

“Next month, we would, once again, gather in Islamabad, to reaffirm our abiding solidarity with and support to the Afghan people,” Qureshi said.

He said he was confident that the meeting would consider concrete steps to help address the humanitarian and economic challenges facing Afghanistan.

“I look forward to welcoming my fellow OIC Foreign Ministers to Islamabad,” Qureshi added.