Albares agrees to a summit with Pakistan before the end of the year to position Spain in the region

The trip has been for a single day, but it has been prepared with care in the Palacio de Santa Cruz. Jose Manuel Albares landed this Friday in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, with a tight schedule, full of meetings and objectives, but with a single mission: to position Spain in the region.

The plan, demonstrate concrete commitments with “the stability of the region” to its counterpart Shah Mahmud Qureshi, make visible to “our Afghans” that we are still waiting to rescue them, and invite Prime Minister Imran Khan to a summit in Madrid with Pedro Sánchez “before the end of the year.” The agreement with the Pakistani government on this point was quick and was sealed at Albares’ initial appearance.

We hope that the bilateral meeting will be in Madrid, and we are already preparing to welcome them with hospitality, “said the Spanish Foreign Minister with a smile. And immediately explained the Spanish promises to help one of the key countries in the region to that the Afghan crisis does not imply a greater migratory pressure. At least, as far as Spain depends.

José Manuel Albares closes his visit to Pakistan.

The head of Spanish diplomacy has been able to move quickly, supported by the international recognition of our country in the management of evacuations, reception and distribution of Afghans fighting to flee from the Taliban.

From August 15, when the capital fell into the hands of the Islamist militia, until the end of the month, when the operation was closed, our country evacuated more than 2,200 people, almost three times what was planned. And the Torrejón, Rota and Morón facilities served as hub for the European Union and the United States.


Pakistan has recognized this effort, welcoming Albares only 15 days later, giving him preferential treatment, committing collaboration with Afghan collaborators and closing a summit of prime ministers. “The last one was held in 2018 and it is about time,” the Spanish minister joked with his Pakistani colleague.

The visit of Albares can be classified as true milestone. Not surprisingly, it is the first by a Spanish foreign minister to Pakistan in 70 years of relations, an event celebrated by both ministers, committed to “strengthening and promoting bilateral relations.”

José Manuel Albares and an Afghan family that will soon come to Spain.

It suits Spain, not only because of the urgency of humanitarian rescues – the minister had time to meet with an Afghan collaborator and his family, “who will soon come to Spain” – but because of the strategic position of this nuclear power in Central Asia, and whose government is very influential in the Taliban regime. In addition, the growth potential of trade relations with an emerging country of more than 220 million inhabitants it is incalculable.

According to ICEX data, in 2020, only 176 million of the total of 261,175 million euros of Spanish exports to the whole world, they were destined for countries of the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan. And the balance is negative for our country, because Spain imported goods and services worth 822 million.

It should be noted that Spain is traditionally a preferred destination country for Pakistani emigration, as Albares recalled.

“We have more than 100,000 of your compatriots with us, collaborating in the economic development of Spain, and that should be noted in our relations, “he said. More than 80% of them are men and most of them come from the Punjab region. In Pakistan they live near 4,000 Spanish citizens, the vast majority also of Pakistani origin.

Spain also tries to help give “stability to Afghanistan, to ensure that the population receives humanitarian aid if it needs it. […] and ensure respect for human rights“, said the minister in the joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart. And the land route, the one that the neighboring country fears the most from the Taliban, is the one that Spain will collaborate to manage.

The situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating since the Taliban came to power, in part due to the cut-off flow of donations. At this point, Albares was explicit: “We want to collaborate with humanitarian aid, but also in the commitment of the respect for human rights, especially those of women and girls, and so I have expressed it to the prime minister. “

Albares made no allusion to the government’s decision on the possibility of recognizing the victory of the Islamists and the legitimacy of his government. He did indicate that at this time, Spain does not seek to impose conditions and its intervention is now focused on providing humanitarian support.

“I don’t think we can talk about imposing conditions, we are not imposing conditions, nobody has done it “, affirmed the minister, who assured that what is requested is “freedom of movement for those who have collaborated with Spain and want to leave Afghanistan”, allow humanitarian assistance and guarantee security conditions.

Pakistani response

In this same context, Minister Qureshi indicated that, with the victory of the fundamentalists, the reality has changed in Afghanistan and “the world must recognize it.” For Pakistan, which has maintained a position of historical influence over the Taliban, “the best way forward is the international commitment as opposed to international isolation“.

“Isolation will have consequences that we do not want. This will not help Afghanistan. It will not help the region or you. We need to take a new approach“he said in front of a score of journalists.

Qureshi, Pakistani Foreign Minister, receives José Manuel Albares in Islamabad.

Qureshi, Pakistani Foreign Minister, receives José Manuel Albares in Islamabad.


The ministers pointed out the common points that the two nations can have towards Afghanistan: We both want the same. Stability for Afghanistan, peace for Afghanistan without the crisis affecting the region. We want humanitarian assistance to reach the people of Afghanistan, “Qureshi said.

Donor Summit

The approach of the Spanish Government precedes the holding of a UN international aid conference in Geneva next Monday in order to find a way to reactivate donor aid and avoid what the international organization estimates that it would be an “imminent humanitarian catastrophe”.

“Spain will be present. We will involve funds, donation commitments. Our agency is willing to help the Afghan people. We have been very close to them for 20 years, we are not going to abandon them. We want to work closely with Pakistan,” Albares said referring to the Geneva quote.

Leave a Comment