ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced that he has initiated talks with the Afghan Taliban to persuade them to honour their pledge by forming an ‘inclusive government’ that represents all ethnicities living in Afghanistan.
The move, according to the prime minister, will ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan, which is in the interest of not only the war-torn country but the entire region.
On his return from Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan where he attended the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s summit, PM Khan on Saturday said he has initiated a discussion with the Taliban following his meetings with the leaders of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries.
“After mtgs in Dushanbe with leaders of Afghanistan’s neighbours & especially a lengthy discussion with Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, I have initiated a dialogue with the Taliban for an inclusive Afghan govt to include Tajiks, Hazaras & Uzbeks,” he tweeted.
Calls for inclusion of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in the new set-up for peace, stability in Afghanistan
Afghanistan was the focus of the discussions both at the SCO summit and at the bilateral meetings between the participating leaders on the sidelines of the event.
Almost all the participating leaders underscored the need for an inclusive government that represented various ethnic groups, minorities, and political shades in Afghanistan, but had at the same time warned against abandoning Kabul, which they feared could spell disaster for the entire region.
Mr Khan in his speech at the summit asked the Taliban to fulfil the pledges they had made for inclusive political structure where all ethnic groups would be represented. He stressed that formation of an inclusive government was vital for Afghanistan’s stability.
The interim government announced by Taliban is not being seen by the international community as “inclusive” as it is heavily dominated by the group’s old guard most of whom are Pashtun without any women and minority group’s representation.
The world has been persistent in its demand for an inclusive government in Afghanistan and has, therefore, been reluctant to recognize the new administration without the condition of inclusivity being fulfilled. Recognition is particularly important for the Taliban rulers, because they are unlikely to get any external financial assistance without it.
Even before the last month takeover by the Taliban, the war-ravaged Afghanistan was heavily dependent on foreign aid that made 80 per cent of its budget. The withholding of assistance by the international community has prompted fears of economic collapse in Afghanistan.
Observing that the current set-up in Afghanistan could not be called truly representative, Russian President Vladimir Putin in his speech at the SCO summit said: “The Taliban, having become almost the full master of the country, have formed their own government, which has taken responsibility for the future of Afghanistan. It is an interim government, as the Taliban themselves say. It cannot be called truly representative or inclusive. We do not see representatives of other ethnic groups here, but it certainly seems necessary to work with it as well.”
Also, Chinese President Xi Jinping was of the opinion that SCO member states should step up coordination, make full use of platforms such as the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group and facilitate a smooth transition in Afghanistan. “We need to encourage Afghanistan to put in place a broad-based and inclusive political framework, adopt prudent and moderate domestic and foreign policies, resolutely fight all forms of terrorism, live in amity with its neighbors and truly embark on a path of peace, stability and development.”
Pakistan that has been one of the strongest advocates of international community’s engagement with Taliban, too, has so far not formally recognized Taliban government despite its active engagement with the new set-up, linking it (recognition) to a regional consensus.
While highlighting the need for an inclusive government, PM Khan in a series of tweets added: “After 40 years of conflict, this inclusivity will ensure peace & a stable Afghanistan, which is in the interest not only of Afghanistan but the region as well.”
The prime minister, however, did not give details of his discussion with the Taliban leadership on the issue of inclusive government.
For the Taliban, setting up of an inclusive government would be a challenge not only because the group is unlikely to share power with others but also due to reported fissures within the interim government.
Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2021