The Latest: Pakistan calls for foreign help for Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s foreign minister has urged the international community to help prevent a humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi was addressing a virtual meeting of foreign ministers from countries neighboring Afghanistan. It was attended by his counterparts from China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The meeting took place a day after the Taliban announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan. In his televised remarks, Qureshi said that Pakistan had noted the development.

He added that since Kabul’s takeover by the Taliban, “much dreaded bloodshed has not occurred,” and the prospect of a protracted conflict and civil war seems to have been averted. Qureshi said that so far, a much-feared exodus of refugees has also not taken place.

The situation remains complex and fluid in Afghanistan however and it “requires discarding old lenses, developing new insights, and proceeding with a realistic and pragmatic approach.”



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BERLIN — Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken are set to meet at the Ramstein U.S. Air Base for talks on Afghanistan on Wednesday.

The two foreign ministers are first set to talk bilaterally and later hold a virtual meeting with other foreign ministers, the German foreign ministry said in a statement.

Maas praised the close cooperation with the U.S. during the evacuation efforts of international and local Afghans from the country in recent weeks, and said that “in the next phase we want to continue to cooperate and coordinate, especially in regard of the new rulers in Kabul.”

Maas warned that a threefold humanities crisis was looming in Afghanistan due to hunger, the stop of aid from international relief groups, and the volatile political situation with the new Taliban regime in Kabul.

Ramstein has become a turnstile for the evacuation for people from Afghanistan with around 34,000 flown for layovers to the U.S. base. Some 22,000 evacuees have already left the base for the United States or other locations.

Germany has relocated more than 4,000 people from Afghanistan so far.


ISLAMABAD — Pakistan is hosting a virtual meeting of foreign ministers from countries neighboring Afghanistan to discuss the situation there.

A foreign ministry statement said Wednesday’s meeting will be attended by China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will preside over the meeting, which aims “to work together for the shared objective of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, which is essential to forge strong economic links.”

The development comes a day after the Taliban announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan, stacked with veterans from their hard-line rule in the 1990s and the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition.

So far Pakistan has not commented on the formation of the interim government.


UNITED NATIONS — Former Irish president Mary Robinson, who heads the group of prominent former leaders founded by Nelson Mandela, called on China and Russia especially to tell the Taliban that participation of women in Afghan society and the education of girls are “non-negotiable and must be respected.”

Robinson recalled visiting Afghanistan in March 2002 as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and being with the then minister of women’s affairs and other Afghan women who had been active before the Taliban ruled from 1996-2001 when they drafted a charter of women’s rights.

Now chair of The Elders, Robinson told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday this was “an important reminder that women’s rights are not Western rights — they are fundamental human rights that these Afghan women had reclaimed in accordance with their cultural values.”

Over the past nearly 20 years, she said, “hard-won gains in gender equality and women’s rights have been secured through constitutional, legislative and policy changes.”

“We cannot allow the women and girls of Afghanistan to be deprived of these rights, including the right to leave the country,” Robinson said.


UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations is making an emergency appeal for $606 million to help nearly 11 million people in Afghanistan for the rest of 2021. It says they face a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by drought, displacement, chronic poverty and the sharp increase in hostilities as the Taliban swept to power.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs already has a $1.3 billion appeal for Afghanistan for the entire year of 2021, but it is only 39% funded — at just $498 million.

The agency’s a “Flash Appeal” launched Tuesday includes $413 million from the original appeal that has not been funded and $193 million in new needs through December.

The money aims to assist 11 million people with critically needed food and “livelihood assistance,” including 2 million people not covered in the original appeal. It is also meant to provide essential health services to 3.4 million Afghans, treatment for acute malnutrition for more than 1 million children and women, water and sanitation for 2.5 million people, and protection for 1.5 million people including children and survivors of gender violence.

The agency says even prior to the Taliban takeover, “the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was one of the worst in the world.”


WASHINGTON — The State Department says the U.S. is assessing the new Afghan government announced by the Taliban.

“We note the announced list of names consists exclusively of individuals who are members of the Taliban or their close associates and no women,” a State Department statement said. “We also are concerned by the affiliations and track records of some of the individuals.

“We understand that the Taliban has presented this as a caretaker Cabinet. However, we will judge the Taliban by its actions, not words. We have made clear our expectation that the Afghan people deserve an inclusive government,” it said.

On the issue of people trying to leave Afghanistan, the State Department said the U.S. will “hold the Taliban to their commitments to allow safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans with travel documents, including permitting flights currently ready to fly out of Afghanistan to agreed-upon onward destinations.”

The statement added: “We also reiterate our clear expectation that the Taliban ensure that Afghan soil is not used to threaten any other countries and allow humanitarian access in support of the Afghan people.”