Secretary of State: Baerbock in Pakistan: Focus on evacuations from Afghanistan

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    Baerbock is traveling to Pakistan for the first time as Foreign Minister. The Green politician wants to discuss a number of issues with the new government in Islamabad. The main concern is the difficult situation in the neighboring country.

    Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock sees Pakistan as a key partner in the evacuation of vulnerable people from Afghanistan.

    “There are no simple, and certainly no really satisfactory, solutions,” emphasized the Green politician before she left for a four-day trip to Pakistan, Greece and Turkey. She admitted that the evacuations had started slowly. The talks will also deal with how to help the people in Afghanistan and at the same time increase the pressure on the Taliban.

    On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Green politician wants to hold talks with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and her counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. According to a spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office, extensive meetings with representatives of the respective governments as well as talks with civil society are planned at all three travel stations.

    Discussions about departure of local staff from Afghanistan

    In Pakistan, Baerbock is also planning an exchange with employees of the German Embassy and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). They have been working for months on the onward journey of particularly vulnerable people who have fled Afghanistan. In Islamabad, the minister also wants to speak to Afghans who are currently there and want to travel on with German support.

    After the militant Islamist Taliban took power in neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistan played an important role in the evacuation of former local staff. According to the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visas are issued for transit. According to the UN, more than 1.3 million Afghan refugees are registered in Pakistan.

    In the past few weeks, the federal government had brought an average of 200 Afghans to Germany via Pakistan. The Foreign Office said at the end of May that the people had arrived in Germany on charter flights from Islamabad. The exit route via Iran is also regularly used to support local staff who had worked for the German armed forces in Afghanistan, as well as particularly vulnerable people who have been accepted and their family members on their onward journey.

    According to the Federal Foreign Office, German visa offices have issued around 18,600 visas for these groups of people since the Taliban took power. With the withdrawal of the last US soldiers from Kabul Airport at the end of August 2021, the international Afghanistan mission came to an end after almost 20 years. Two weeks earlier, the Taliban had taken the capital Kabul without a fight because the Afghan security forces offered no resistance.

    Cooperation on climate, education and sustainability

    Germany supports Pakistan in development cooperation in the areas of climate, education and sustainability, among other things. For 2020 and 2021, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has committed more than 170 million euros to the South Asian country. German companies are also active in the populous country with more than 220 million inhabitants.