Pakistan, Qatar call for unconditional humanitarian aid to Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Pakistan and Qatar on Thursday called on the international community not to make humanitarian aid to Afghanistan conditional on political developments under the new Taliban government.
“To save lives and the people of Afghanistan, there should be no strings attached,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said at a news conference in Islamabad along with Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.
Qureshi said the world is watching the conduct of the Taliban's new political set up to see if they live up to pledges on key issues, including human rights.
"If you are not ready for immediate economic aid or development, fine... but do not take steps that would lead to an economic collapse of Afghanistan," he added.
His words were echoed by Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed: "Humanitarian assistance should be independent from any political progress."
He said Afghans deserve to be supported despite what is happening in the political landscape.
Pakistan and Qatar are considered the two countries with the most influence over the Taliban.
Pakistan has long been considered a country where many senior Taliban leaders escaped to after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. In 2013, the Taliban opened its political office in the Qatari capital of Doha, where most of its senior leadership has since been based.
Sheikh Mohammed said the first international commercial flight to leave Afghanistan since the withdrawal of U.S. troops departed Thursday with the help of the Taliban, whom he thanked.
"This is actually what we are expecting from Taliban… to see these positive statements demonstrated in actions," he said, adding that Afghanistan should be open to people to come and go.
Qureshi also called on for the unfreezing of Afghanistan's foreign assets.
A vast majority of the Afghan central bank's assets are held outside the country. A U.S. official had said any central bank assets the Afghan government have in the United States will not be made available to the Taliban. read more
"The frozen assets, defreeze them, and let Afghan people utilize their money for their benefit for their people," Qureshi said.
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