Pakistan ready to host meeting of Islamic countries on Afghanistan

Islamabad, Dec 17 (EFE).- Pakistan on Friday finalized its preparations to host a meeting of foreign ministers of Islamic countries on Afghanistan, the largest gathering of foreign leaders on the war-torn country since the Taliban returned to power in mid-August.

The Sunday meeting will highlight the humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan.

A foreign ministry statement said that besides the foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states and observers, participants would also include special invitees from the United Nations, international financial institutions, and non-member countries.

These include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the European Union.

A representative of the Afghan interim government would attend the meeting convened after Saudi Arabia’s request.

“We are taking all the security measures with [the help from] our army, civilian departments, agencies, police and local administration,” Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid told reporters in Islamabad.

“We will make sure no stone is left unturned to keep up with the service and security of the delegates.”

He told reporters that Prime Minister Imran Khan would address the opening session of the meeting.

Foreign ministry sources told EFE that the conference would take place at the parliament building.

Security forces have sealed the area for the general public.

The government has issued special passes for officers and media personnel to enter the zone.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged the international community to engage with the interim government of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“Please do not abandon Afghanistan, please engage,” he said.

He said there was a difference between recognizing a government and engaging with it.

“The world must engage with the Taliban so a possible humanitarian and economic crisis is averted,” he added.

The foreign minister said there was a historic opportunity for a stable peace in Afghanistan.

Missing the opportunity would affect not just Pakistan and the region, but the western countries also, he warned.

“If there is economic collapse, the terrorist groups, including the al Qaeda, the Islamic State and others will take benefit of the situation and reemerge.”

According to UN estimates, more than half of Afghanistan’s population, around 22.8 million Afghans, face crisis levels of hunger.

As per United Nations Development Program, 97 percent of Afghans could fall below the poverty line.

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