Taliban invited to next meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbours

Published November 17, 2021
A file photo of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. — AP/File
A file photo of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Tuesday the Afghan Taliban would be invited to the third ministerial meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbours.

Mr Qureshi, at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “Afghanistan’s interim government will also be invited to the next meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbours.”

Pakistan had worked out a new mechanism for consultations among Afghanistan’s neighbours on the developments in the war-ravaged country after the Taliban takeover in mid-August. The format includes China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, besides Russia. The inaugural meeting was held in Islamabad on September 8, while the second meeting was hosted by Iran on October 27.

FM Qureshi tells Senate panel Islamabad’s strategy is to maintain constructive engagement with Kabul

The Taliban were not invited to either of the meetings because the new regime lacked international recognition. The participants of the second meeting had in their joint communique called on the “international community to remain positively engaged with Afghanistan and develop a long-term roadmap to advance the agenda of political engagement, economic integration and regional connectivity”.

The next meeting will take place in China. Although dates have not been finalised, it is likely to be held early next year.

Though the Taliban are still not recognised, countries around the world are increasingly engaging with the new government. Besides, several foreign ministers visited Kabul over the past several weeks and representatives of the extended troika on Afghanistan — China, Pakistan, the United States and Russia — met Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on the sidelines of their meeting in Islamabad last week.

Mr Muttaqi had later, while speaking at a think tank on Friday, said that de facto recognition for the Taliban was already there and hoped that de jure acceptance would follow soon.

Mr Qureshi, speaking at the National Defence University, underscored the need for the recognition of the reality that the war in Afghanistan has “ended and the Taliban are in power”.

About Pakistan’s policy on Afghanistan, the foreign minister told the Senate panel that the “strategy has been to maintain constructive engagement with Afghanistan”. He said Islamabad had been consistently telling the world that it was in its interest to engage with the Taliban, while calling on the latter to address the concerns of the international community.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2021

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