Distinguished Lecture Series
His Excellency, Amir Khan Muttaqi ,
Interim Foreign Minister of Afghanistan
November 12, 2021
“We must not be a prisoner of the past, peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan and vice versa.” This was stated by H.E. Amir Khan Muttaqi , Interim Foreign Minister of Afghanistan during his address at a Public Talk organized by the Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA) at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad today under its Distinguished Lecture Series. Members of the diplomatic corps in Islamabad, academics, civil society, former and current diplomats were also present.
Ms. Amina Khan, Director Centre for Afghanistan, Middle East & Africa (CAMEA) moderated the event.
During his welcome remarks, Director General ISSI, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that in the aftermath of the US pull-out, the manner in which the Ashraf Ghani government left, shows that they never had the support of Afghan people. Now the situation in Afghanistan is a ground reality and that there is a consensus that the people of Afghanistan want peace. If there is chaos in Afghanistan, it will lead towards terrorism and back to a chaotic situation he said.
Mr. Muttaqi shed light on the new developments in Afghanistan and also talked about the foreign policy of Afghanistan and specifically relations with Pakistan. He said the developments in Afghanistan were peaceful due to the support of the people and in the city of Kabul not a single drop of blood was shed. He further said that with the group’s takeover, there was comprehensive peace throughout Afghanistan and that the refugees coming out of Afghanistan are economic refugees as is the case in other parts of the world as well. The new government of Afghanistan does not pursue a policy of revenge. Talking about the Doha agreement, he said that we have made it clear that we will not allow the territory of Afghanistan to be used against any country, including our immediate neighbours. There exists a problem internationally in defining certain words – one such word is terrorism. We are now pursuing a balanced policy and we do not want our country to be a ground of conflict for major powers and joint efforts can lead to stability. Due to the unique placement of Afghanistan geographically, it can serve as a point of connectivity for the entire region. We are exerting efforts to have dialogue with CARs so that trade can be resumed between Pakistan and Central Asia which will benefit Afghanistan as well. We also look forward to good bilateral trade with Pakistan. Reforms that the International community wants us to take we want to work towards them peacefully not through pressure tactics.
He said Afghanistan for the first time in forty-three years has a central, responsible and sovereign government which controls every inch of the territory of Afghanistan. We, in Afghanistan have a historic opportunity to create a win-win situation for everyone. The new developments have opened new opportunities for stability as the backbone of prosperity. A lot of things are coming out of the international media with the intention of destroying our image. 500,000 civil servants who were previously not being paid for months are now being paid. We have not fired anyone due to their political views. He also stated that not a single woman has been fired or their salaries cut. Afghanistan has around 3000 clinics and hospitals which are still running today. Aid has been cut by ‘International human rights champions’ and the assets of people of Afghanistan- their basic source of sustenance – have also been frozen. There no longer exists any rationale behind any such sanctions. The international community wants us to build an inclusive government- our current cabinet fulfils that requirement – we have representatives from all ethnicities. We are being punished for something which is a possibility in the future, he concluded.
The talk was followed by a discussion moderated by Ambassador Chaudhry. During this, Mr. Muttaqi appreciated Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees who have resided in the country for more than 40 years. Responding to a question regarding women’s rights and education, he said that more than 75 percent of girls have returned to school and while the focus of the international community on women education there is very little focus on the teachers who need to paid, hence this appears to be quiet contradictory in part of the international community. There is a consensus in Afghanistan and the entire region that whichever government is in power with the support of the people of Afghanistan is in the interest of all. There remain no anti-Pak elements in Afghanistan and that we are trying our best that the territory of Afghanistan not be used against anyone and that peace should prevail.
The talk concluded with Chairman BOG, ISSI Ambassador Khalid Mahmood presenting the Institute’s shield to the distinguished guest.