FM Qureshi & US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meet with Afghanistan as the Point of Discussion

September 24, 2021

On the sidelines of the 76th United Nations General Assembly session in New York, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi finally met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

According to Blinken’s schedule on the US Department of State website, the nearly hour-long meeting began at 1 p.m. New York time at the Palace Hotel in New York City. This is the first meeting between the two top diplomats, and Afghanistan is expected to be a major topic of conversation.

Following the meeting, Qureshi stated that he had reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to a trade, investment, energy, and regional connectivity relationship with the United States.

Pakistan’s commitment to an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan was emphasized by the foreign minister. He also emphasized the importance of the international community holding the Taliban to their promises and recognizing its moral obligation to assist the Afghan people in dealing with the country’s growing humanitarian crisis. He emphasized that the world should not repeat the mistake of disengaging from Afghanistan.

Pakistan has long desired high-level contacts with US leaders, especially since the US-backed government in Kabul fell apart.

Qureshi has held a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from around the world while in New York for the UN General Assembly session. In his meetings and other appearances, he urged world leaders to maintain contact with Afghanistan’s new rulers. In his meeting with Secretary Blinken, he was expected to make the same argument. Pakistan, on the other hand, has yet to publicly support the Taliban’s bid for a seat in the United Nations General Assembly.

The Afghan mission at the United Nations is still occupied by representatives of the previous Afghan government, which collapsed last month when the Taliban captured Kabul. They were in attendance at US Vice President Joe Biden’s speech on Tuesday. They will continue to occupy the mission until the credentials committee makes a decision. On September 15, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres received a letter from Ghulam Isaczai, the current accredited Afghan ambassador, stating that he and other members of his team will attend the 76th UNGA to represent Afghanistan.

The Taliban-controlled Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs also sent Guterres a message on September 20 requesting to attend the current UNGA. Ameer Khan Muttaqi, a Taliban leader, signed the letter as the new Afghan foreign minister.

While speaking with journalists in New York, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric confirmed receiving both letters. Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was “ousted” on August 15, according to Muttaqi’s letter, and his envoy no longer represents Afghanistan, according to Dujarric. The Taliban, on the other hand, are unlikely to get the slot before Afghanistan’s scheduled address to the UN General Assembly on September 27.

The General Assembly’s nine-member credentials committee, which makes such decisions, is unlikely to meet before September 27. Even if it did, the dispute will not be resolved in the next two or three days. The sources confirmed, however, that the Secretary General’s office had sent both letters to the committee following consultations with Maldives President Abdulla Shahid. The United States, Russia, China, Bahamas, Bhutan, Chile, Namibia, Sierra Leone, and Sweden are among the committee’s current members. According to diplomatic sources in Washington, the US is not in a hurry to accept the Taliban’s request to join the UN.

Senior US State Department officials told various US media outlets that they were aware of the Taliban’s request, but that the deliberations “would take some time,” implying that the Taliban representative would not address the UNGA on September 27. One option is not to allow Afghanistan’s current ambassador to speak at the event because doing so would imply support for the previous government, which would have far-reaching consequences. However, the former Afghan government retains support at the United Nations, and India appears to be leading the charge to allow its envoy to address the General Assembly.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, speaking from the UN General Assembly podium, emphasized the importance of “continuing dialogue with Taliban because “boycott only leads to polarization and reactions, whereas dialogue can lead to positive results.

Isolating the Taliban, according to Qureshi, could have dangerous consequences for the entire region. If the international community disengages, if you don’t deal with the immediate humanitarian crisis, if you let the Afghan economy collapse, if you keep freezing Afghan money, you’re creating space for those elements that we agreed to fight and defeat.

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