PRIME MINISTER Imran Khan has delivered an effective speech at the UN General Assembly session detailing the salient points of Pakistan’s policy on varied subjects like India, Afghanistan, Covid-19 and climate change. All these topics resonate with an international audience to differing degrees, but it is Afghanistan that is the centre of attention for obvious reasons, and more so the words of the prime minister of the country that arguably command the highest relevance in matters relating to Afghanistan.

The prime minister had a mixed bag of arguments in his speech. These are worthy of debate in terms of their utility for Pakistan. He was correct in saying that if the international community did not engage constructively with the Taliban government, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan would become even grimmer with poverty rates shooting beyond 90pc in the near future. There is no doubt that unless urgent financial aid is provided to Afghanistan, the economy will struggle to sustain itself and the citizens would face the brunt of the hardships that ensue.

While Mr Khan may be sincere in urging the international community to lend a hand, the Taliban government is doing itself no favours by refusing to accommodate any demands of the international community, including Pakistan. Not only is the Taliban leadership showing reluctance to include other ethnicities in its governing set-up, it has flatly declined to entertain the idea of having women representation in government. To add insult to injury, the Taliban are cracking down on girls’ education and restricting women from working in offices.

This is contrary to what they had promised before taking over Kabul. At that time, many officials and other stakeholders from relevant countries and organisations had expressed the optimism that the Taliban appeared more pragmatic and flexible than they were in their previous stint in power. The initial statements from various Taliban spokesmen also gave the impression that they were desirous of joining the global mainstream. These hopes are now dimming with each passing day. In the latest regressive move, Taliban officials have declared they will start harsh punishments including executions and amputations. All this means that the Taliban are gradually reverting to their old ways and there is little chance that they will show flexibility to global demands.

This intractability may appeal to the Taliban hardliners but it will ensure that their government will not get the recognition they want any time soon. Pakistan should also not press for it if the Taliban refuse to bend. The international community is justified in using recognition as a pressure tool to extract some fundamental reforms from the Taliban. Pakistan should do its part to persuade the Taliban to see reason. Pakistan should also spell out for them in no uncertain terms that without recognition and financial assistance, the Taliban will struggle to sustain themselves in power.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2021

Opinion

Pakhtuns, state and nationalism
Updated 15 Oct 2021

Pakhtuns, state and nationalism

They have lost the most in the ‘war on terror’. Why then is the PM painting Pakhtuns as a nation of holy warriors?
Unity of faith
15 Oct 2021

Unity of faith

There is unity in the apparent diversity of faith traditions.
The people’s page
Updated 15 Oct 2021

The people’s page

Many are disillusioned with the ‘Naya Pakistan’ narrative.
The next 22 months
Updated 14 Oct 2021

The next 22 months

There are at least 11 key challenges which the government will face in the run-up to the next polls.

Editorial

No need for NAB
Updated 15 Oct 2021

No need for NAB

THE National Accountability Bureau has sent instructions to its regional bureaus to stop processing cases that fall...
Forced conversions
Updated 15 Oct 2021

Forced conversions

THE majoritarian view has once again prevailed in the matter of bringing about legislation against forced conversion...
15 Oct 2021

Transgender rights

MEMBERS of the transgender community in the country are often at the receiving end of both their families’ and...
One big mess
14 Oct 2021

One big mess

At its core, the tension is the result of blurring of institutional boundaries witnessed since the PTI government came to power.
Tareen’s admission
Updated 14 Oct 2021

Tareen’s admission

PRIME MINISTER Imran Khan’s estranged friend Jahangir Khan Tareen has finally confirmed what has long been alleged...
14 Oct 2021

Dengue outbreak

DENGUE cases continue to rise at an alarming rate in several cities of KP and Punjab. According to data provided by...