ISLAMABAD: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, in her maiden visit to Pakistan on Tuesday, called on the international community to “give a loud and clear message” to the Afghan Taliban that they were “heading in the wrong direction”.
At a media conference in Islamabad alongside her Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the German diplomat warned of the humanitarian crisis brewing in Afghanistan under the Taliban rulers.
“When we look across the border, the situation is dire and the Taliban are taking the country to a downfall,” she underlined. “Parents don’t know how to feed their children, girls are deprived of rights to education, women have been shunned from the society, dissenting voices are suppressed and the economy is rendering to a halt.
“The international community must stand united and tell the Taliban loud and clear that you are heading in the wrong direction. And as long as they go down this path, there is no room for normalisation and even recognition of Taliban as legitimate rulers,” Baerbock asserted.
But at the same time, she continued, Germany would not forget or abandon the people of Afghanistan. “It is not the mistake of the people that the Taliban overthrew the government and since then have tightened their grip on Afghan society,” she said, promising that Germany would continue to provide humanitarian aid and support the people who need it, especially women and girls.
The diplomat highlighted that Pakistan had been Germany’s “closest and most reliable partner” in that regard, revealing that under this close cooperation between the two countries, 14,000 Afghans, who were at risk in the country, could travel to Germany via Pakistan and were able to start a new life in safety and without fear.
Meanwhile, FM Bilawal urged the international community to respond to the “grave humanitarian situation” in the neighbouring country which had put the lives of 40 million Afghans at risk.
“Pakistan’s policy is clear. We support a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan which contributed to regional connectivity and stability,” he said. “It is our hope that the Afghan authorities will be responsive to the expectations of the international community including inclusivity, respect, human rights for all including women and take effective actions against terrorism.”
The foreign minister stressed that, for its part, the world should actively engage in preventing the humanitarian crisis and release Afghan assets as it was crucial for stabilising the economy and making it sustainable.
He also highlighted that Pakistan was playing an outside role in mitigating the economic crisis in Afghanistan. “This is the face of Pakistan … A modern Muslim country.”
Arrival in Islamabad
German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, on Tuesday arrived in Islamabad on a two-day visit to hold talks with Pakistani leadership on matters of mutual interests.
On 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.
She is visiting Pakistan at the invitation of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
The German foreign minister along with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also planted a sapling in the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the visit, the two foreign ministers will hold delegation-level talks on the entire range of bilateral matters and exchange views on regional and global issues. Foreign Minister Baerbock will also call on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Baerbock ends tour after positive COVID test
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has tested positive for coronavirus and is cutting short a trip to Pakistan. The minister had just arrived in Pakistan as the first stop on a tour of several countries.
The German foreign minister tested positive for coronavirus shortly after the start of her visit to Pakistan, a Foreign Office spokesman said on Tuesday. As well as visiting Pakistan, Annalena Baerbock had been due to travel onwards to Greece and Turkey.
Baerbock tested positive after lunch after noticing that she had lost her sense of taste, her ministry said. It added that a rapid COVID antigen test she took in the morning had been negative.
The minister had already held talks with her counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, which centered around bilateral cooperation and regional challenges, including the situation in Afghanistan.
The pair held a detailed discussion about the “grave humanitarian situation” facing 40 million Afghans, according to Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
Baerbock had also been set to meet the staff of the German embassy and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), which has been working with people who have fled Afghanistan.
She was due to meet Afghan refugees who are in Islamabad and want to leave for Germany.