Global engagement with Taliban urged to avert crisis

Published September 23, 2021
This file photo shows security guards deployed outside the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — AFP/File
This file photo shows security guards deployed outside the Foreign Office in Islamabad. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday underscored the need for international engagement with the Taliban government in Afghanistan to prevent humanitarian crisis and economic collapse.

The Foreign Office said this in a statement as special envoys of Russia, China and Pakistan reached Islamabad after their two-day visit to Kabul during which they met Afghanistan’s Prime Minister Mohammad Hasan Akhund, Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mutaqi and other high-level officials of the caretaker government of Taliban.

They also met with former Afghan president Hamid Karzai and former head of the High Council on National Reconciliation Abdullah.

Russia, China and Pakistan are members of the ‘Extended Troika’ that has been working for peace in Afghanistan. The US, which is also part of the troika, did not become part of the trip.

Taliban reassure envoys of meeting international community’s expectations

The envoys soon after reaching Islamabad met with Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood.

“Reaffirmed support for peaceful, stable, sovereign & prosperous Afghanistan; Underscored importance of international engagement to address humanitarian challenges and stabilise economic situation,” the FO said.

An official, who had been briefed on the visit, said the envoys had “constructive engagement” with Taliban leaders, who reassured them of meeting the expectations of the international community.

The international community has been demanding an inclusive government and a permissive environment for aid workers to deliver humanitarian assistance. Moreover, there are concerns about human rights, particularly women’s rights, under Taliban regime.

The official said the three envoys spoke with “one voice” during the trip. Their core message pertained to formation of an inclusive government, observance of human rights, preventing terrorists from establishing sanctuaries on Afghan soil, controlling drug trafficking and averting the looming humanitarian crisis.

Taliban assured the envoys that they would strive to make their government more inclusive.

The Taliban recently expanded their interim cabinet and included some of people from non-Pakhtun ethnicities. However, all of them are Taliban loyalists. Moreover, no woman has still been included in the government.

The official said Taliban were asked “to do more” on the inclusivity issue before their government could become acceptable to the outside world.

International recognition is crucial for economic survival of the new government after most of the countries blocked assistance for Kabul, which has historically depended on foreign aid for its functioning.

On terrorism concerns, Taliban leaders reiterated their commitment to take action against the militant Islamic State group and other terrorist groups present in Afghanistan.

About girls’ education, the official said, Taliban assured that they were not opposed to their education and would be opening their schools in near future after addressing the law and order situation.

Taliban authorities did not mention girls’ schools while ordering reopening of boys’ schools last week. This renewed concerns about Taliban’s policy on girls’ education.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2021

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