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EDITORIAL: The Afghan Taliban have not delivered on their own promises to the international community with the result that even their well-wishers are reluctant to offer economic help or diplomatic recognition. At its meeting on Sunday hosted by Pakistan, the Troika Plus — comprising Pakistan, China, Russia and the US — reiterated its unmet expectations. Expressing deep concern over the humanitarian and economic situation, the forum called for access to education for women and girls at all levels; cutting off ties with all international terrorist groups; and denying space to any terrorist entity operating inside the country. The participants also urged the Taliban to have an inclusive government and uphold Afghanistan’s international legal obligations, including universally accepted principles of international law and fundamental human rights as well as legitimate rights of foreign nationals and institutions.

Three months after takeover of the country, the government in Kabul is still foundering. Drawing the world’s attention, like the UN Secretary-General and some others before to a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the meeting the country is on the brink of economic collapse, adding that “with international funding dried up, it has become difficult to pay even salaries, let alone pursue development projects.” Making a bad situation worse is a severe drought. Pakistan along with some NGOs from other countries is providing humanitarian assistance to people. But with the US freezing of Afghan central bank’s assets of $ 9.5 billion, and no other aid flows the Taliban government can neither properly run its affairs nor offer the much-needed succour to its long suffering people. Its prospects can get even bleaker if it fails to address the concerns of its supporters regarding the presence of terrorist groups that aside from the IS — Taliban’s own opponent — include the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) also known as East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) which poses a threat to China; the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and its offshoot Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) that are active in Uzbekistan, considered as its backyard by Russia; and of course the TTP, which has been trying to undermine Pakistan. Instead of banishing that terror outfit from its soil the Taliban have told Islamabad to negotiate with them. Despite its reservations Pakistan has been pleading the new Kabul government’s case before the international community for the sake of peace and security for all.

Its adversaries are waiting in the wings to take advantage of its problems and start a fresh conflict. In fact, Foreign Minister Qureshi warned of an impending civil war in case the world remained unresponsive to the situation in Afghanistan. No one wants to see that except for perhaps India, which makes no secret of its distress over the loss of its foothold in Afghanistan. Further destabilisation of the country holds serious repercussions for the entire region. The new rulers in Kabul can miss the opportunity on offer at their own peril. The Troika Plus has agreed to continue practical engagement with them to encourage the implementation of moderate and prudent policies that could help achieve a stable and prosperous Afghanistan as soon as possible. They must address these issues and attain some good for their government and the people.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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