Afghanistan heading in ‘wrong direction’ under Taliban: German FM

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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Zardari receives German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on her arrival at the Foreign Office, here Tuesday.

ISLAMABAD: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has made a damning assessment of the Afghan Taliban rule, saying the war-torn country is heading in the “wrong direction”.
“When we look across the border the Taliban is leading the country to a downfall,” Germany’s top diplomat said at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
This is the first visit by a foreign minister from a western country since the change of government in Pakistan.
The German foreign minister held formal talks with her Pakistani counterpart covering bilateral relationship, Afghanistan, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and other issues.
On Afghanistan, Baerbock issued a clear warning, insisting Afghanistan was heading in the wrong direction under the Taliban rule.
“Parents don’t know how to feed their children. Girls are deprived of their education. Women are almost excluded from participation in public life. Dissenting voices are brutally suppressed. The economy is grinding to a halt,” said Baerbock.
She added that the international community must stand united and together inform the Taliban that the country is “heading the wrong direction”.
“As long as they go down this path, there is no room for normalization and even less for recognition of Taliban as legitimate rulers of the country,” she stressed, clarifying that the Taliban rule would not be legitimized.
However, despite expressing serious concerns over the Taliban’s rule, FM Baerbock furthered that the international community will not “forget and abandon” the people of Afghanistan.
“It is not the fault of the people. The Taliban overthrew the government and since then, they have tightened their grip on =Afghan society. We will continue to provide humanitarian aid and support to the people who need it the most, especially women and girls, who suffer the most under the Taliban’s rule.”
Referring to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, she said that Moscow had set a dangerous precedent by invading the neighbouring country.
“Russia’s invasion sets a wrong precedent. Our world is more dangerous if the law of the strongest applies, rather than international law.”
Foreign Minister Bilawal emphasized that there was no change in Pakistan’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and said Pakistan, being a smaller and developing country, would also advocate pursuing international law and rules.
Bilawal expressed concerns over the humanitarian situation unfolding in Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly claimed that he was ousted from power by a US plot since he wanted to pursue an independent foreign policy, particularly on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The German FM also voiced concerns over the human rights situation in Indian Illegaly Occupied Kashmir (IIOJK).
“We support the work of the United Nations. Also with the situation in Kashmir to ensure that all human rights are being guaranteed within the different bodies of the United Nations.”
She added that the constructive approach and confidence-building measures were the only way to improve the relationship between Pakistan and India.
She also welcomed the Line of Control (LoC) ceasefire between the two countries, which was agreed upon in 2021. FM Baerbock stressed the need for both sides to reduce tensions.
Earlier, Germany’s Foreign Minister Baerbock had arrived in Islamabad on a two-day visit to hold talks with Pakistan’s leadership on matters of mutual interests.
Upon her arrival at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and other senior officials accorded her a warm welcome.
Foreign Minister Baerbock was invited to Pakistan by FM Bhutto. During the visit, the two foreign ministers will hold delegation-level talks regarding bilateral interests and discuss views on regional and global issues.
Baerbock along with her Pakistani counterpart also planted a sapling on the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.