EDITORIAL: As the world waits for the Taliban to make the new setup inclusive, at last week’s Shanghai Cooperation (SCO) Summit in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, all participants underscored the need for a representative government in Afghanistan. Upon his return home, Prime Minister Imran Khan disclosed that after meetings in Dushanbe with leaders of Afghanistan’s neighbours, especially a lengthy discussion with the President of Tajikistan, he had initiated a dialogue with the Taliban for a government that includes Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks. That is an important move on his part. They need to be asked to hold good on their words that their government would be inclusive and that the present one was an interim arrangement. In fact, when asked during a presser Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had said women would also be inducted in the government (on a lower level, of course) at a later stage. So far, there is no sign of any of that happening. One reason is believed to be differences within the top Taliban echelons.
Be that as it may, they must understand that their government will not have international recognition unless it is truly representative of all ethnic communities. And that no country can survive in isolation for long. Speaking at the SCO summit their well-wishers, including presidents of China and Russia, also expressed their concern over the prevailing state of affairs, though both acknowledged the need to encourage Afghanistan’s new rulers to put in place a broad-based political framework. Regardless of this issue, the international community must not link humanitarian assistance to other important issues at this point in time. Nearly half of the population of that war-ravaged country with massive scale poverty depend on it. A recent UN Development Programme (UNDP) reports warns of “catastrophic deterioration in the lives of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable people.” Talking of the report UN Assistant Secretary-General Kanni Wignaraja averred, “We are facing a full-on development collapse on top of humanitarian and economic crisis.” This grim reality cannot be overlooked. The world should urgently respond to the crisis; failure to act would have far-reaching destructive consequences.
The Taliban must listen to PM Khan’s inclusiveness advice for their own good. It will not be easy for them to govern by ignoring half of the people comprising non-Pashtun communities. Khan offered them the right choice when he said in a tweet “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.” Hopefully, his effort will come to fruition sooner rather than later.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021