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Russian, Pakistani leaders discuss situation in Afghanistan, to ‘coordinate’ positions there

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The combo shows Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan say they will “coordinate” their position to address the evolving situation in Afghanistan, stressing the need for “peace and stability” in the Taliban-held country.

The Russian and Pakistani leaders made the remarks during a telephone conversation on Tuesday, statements from Moscow and Islamabad said, ahead of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that is scheduled to be held later this week.

“While exchanging views on the situation in Afghanistan, both parties voiced their interest in coordinating both countries’ approaches for the sake of stabilizing it,” a statement from the Russian government further read.

The Pakistani government, for its part, stressed that “close coordination and consultations between Pakistan and Russia on the evolving situation in Afghanistan were of crucial importance.”

Islamabad also said that the focus of the conversation was on the need for “peace and stability” in the crisis-hit country and on what Pakistan expected from the international community in this regard.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan underlined the need for the international community to remain engaged in Afghanistan,” it further read, adding that the premier “stressed that the Afghan people should not be abandoned at this crucial juncture.”

The Pakistani government also quoted Khan as calling for an urgent dispatch of desperately-needed humanitarian assistance to people in Afghanistan and also for steps to be taken to prevent an economic crisis.

The phone call on Tuesday was the second between the two leaders in less than a month and in both cases Khan was called by Putin.

The government of Afghanistan rapidly collapsed on August 15 and president Ashraf Ghani fled the country in the face of the lightning advances of the Taliban that followed US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw the American troops in a disastrous pullout.

On September 7, the Taliban announced the formation of a caretaker government.

The statements came just a day after international donors pledged more than $1billion in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to address hunger and poverty, which significantly increased during the past month.

The pledges were made at a UN conference in Geneva as the world body has warned of a looming humanitarian crisis in the South Asian country. China and Russia said the main burden of helping Afghanistan out of crisis should lie with Western countries.

Around $200 million of the new money is earmarked for the World Food Programme (WFP), which found that 93 percent of the 1,600 Afghans it surveyed in August and September were not getting enough to eat.

The WFP has already warned that over 14 million people - out of Afghanistan’s 40 million-strong population - could be pushed to the brink of starvation if they do not receive immediate aid.

The Taliban first ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 until the United States invaded the country and toppled the Taliban-run government in 2001 on the pretext of fighting terrorism following the September 11 attacks in the US.

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