Taliban recognition

Published December 14, 2021

AS Pakistan readies itself to host a special session of the OIC next week, Afghan officials have reiterated calls for the international community to accord recognition to the Taliban government.

In an interview, the Taliban chief spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid called on the OIC to recognise the government in the upcoming meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers. The spokesman said the OIC should support the Taliban government by recognising it.

Read more: Afghan Taliban seek world’s 'mercy and compassion' to help millions of Afghans in desperate need

The Dec 19 meeting in Islamabad is aimed at drawing the world’s attention to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. The session will include delegations from the EU and the P5 group of the UN Security Council. With the onset of winter, there are increasing fears that Afghanistan could be facing a humanitarian disaster triggered by shortages of food, medicines and a collapsing economy. The UN has issued urgent appeals for intervention by the international community and financial pledges have already been made.

However, in the absence of formal recognition, aid organisations are finding it difficult to put in place a system through which desperately needed humanitarian aid can reach the people who need it most in Afghanistan.

Read more: Red Cross says Afghanistan sanctions behind 'infuriating' suffering

The OIC conference provides an important platform to raise these difficult questions and work towards finding answers. The West continues to maintain that the Taliban government has not done enough to prove that it is not following regressive policies against women and minorities. While not denying the need to ensure that the looming humanitarian disaster is averted, Western officials maintain that formal recognition will only follow some substantive changes in the way that the Taliban are running the government. At the OIC meeting, it is important for member countries to take a holistic look at the precarious situation in Afghanistan and somehow figure out how to narrow the gap between what the international community expects and demands from the Taliban and what the Taliban are willing to and can deliver.

Pakistan has been at the forefront of urging greater engagement with the Taliban because it stands to lose the most if Afghanistan is hit by instability. There are already signs that violence can flare up at any time. Sporadic incidents of violence, often perpetrated by the IS in Afghanistan, have illustrated the state of insecurity in the country. If the situation worsens and the economy starts to collapse, it would attract greater instability, violence and chaos.

It is hoped that the OIC members, as well as the EU and P5 delegations can produce solutions that can minimise the looming threat of a disaster in Afghanistan and activate a serious review of the recognition issue. At the same time, the OIC members should also press the Taliban government to show greater flexibility and responsiveness to the demands of the international community. They cannot remain rigid in the face of the troubles that surround them.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2021

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