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Germany gears up to fill void after US exit from Afghanistan

Germany is keen to build an international consensus over Afghanistan (Photo: IANS)

With the US withdrawal creating a void in Afghanistan, other countries are stepping in to contain the possible debilitating aftereffects.

Germany has stepped up diplomacy with neighbouring countries and those with heft in the Muslim world. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is on a five-country visit—Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Qatar—to understand how Berlin can play a stabilising role in the war-torn country.

Maas made his intentions clear before flying off on his tour with the statement: "I am travelling to the region today to make it clear that Germany’s engagement is not ending with the conclusion of the military evacuation mission".

Germany is still trying to find out how best it can extricate thousands of people who supported it in the last 20 years. It is working with Uzbekistan which has shown willingness to support Afghans who want to go to Germany. However, Uzbekistan has also said that it cannot accept any refugees from its southern neighbour due to fears of instability.

Turkey too has publicly declined to take in Afghan refugees, saying that it does not want to become a "refugee burden". Despite the reservations of many countries, Germany is still willing to take in thousands of Afghans.

In Islamabad, Maas said that the Taliban will have to be watched to ensure that the promises it made are kept. "It is important for us that all Afghans, even those who do not support the Taliban, feel represented by this government and it remains to be seen whether the Taliban take this into account,” he said.

Pakistan too agreed with the German minister about raising a global effort to resolve the situation in Afghanistan peacefully.

Seeking global cooperation to resolve the situation in Afghanistan, he added: "We have been able to rely on international cooperation and support in recent weeks. Some of the countries that I am travelling to today have played a considerable part in ensuring the success of our evacuation mission and in enabling more than 5,000 people to leave Afghanistan on Bundeswehr flights".

Maas has also reached out to United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members Russia and China over building a consensus to ensure that Afghanistan does not descend further into conflict and recrimination between its diverse groups. 

Berlin feels that the chaotic US withdrawal has created challenges within the region, not just for Kabul but also for its neighbours which they will not be able to deal with alone. Berlin is, therefore, on an overdrive to ensure that the region stabilises with international cooperation involving the powers as well as Afghanistan's neighbours.