ISLAMABAD: The regional countries have asked the Afghan interim government to take effective measures to dismantle, eliminate, and prevent the placement of all sorts of terrorist groups based in Afghanistan and to prevent the country from being the terrorism and instability hotspot and spreading to the regional states.
This joint call was made on the Afghan interim government at the 5th meeting of the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan which was attended by special representatives and senior officials from China, Pakistan, Russia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan at Kazan, Russia on September 29.
Special Representative for Afghanistan Asif Durrani represented the Pakistan to the meeting. The meeting was also attended by Afghan acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, besides representatives from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Türkiye as guests of honor.
“The parties noted with concern the difficult security situation in Afghanistan due to the intensification of the activities of terrorist groups, primarily ISIS. Appreciated the current Afghan authorities for their serious fight against ISIS and urged them to do the same against all terrorist groups,” read the Kazan Declaration issued at the conclusion of the meeting.
The declaration, however, did not mention other terrorist groups such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a major source of concern for Pakistan, which is constantly launching attacks inside the country while taking refuge in Afghanistan.
“[The meeting] called on the current Afghan authorities to take effective measures to dismantle, eliminate and prevent placement of all sorts of terrorist groups based in Afghanistan and to prevent the country from being the terrorism and instability hotspot and spreading to the regional states,” the declaration further stated.
The participating regional countries also noted the reports on the reduction in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan caused by successful steps of the current Afghan authorities and stressed the importance of continuing real and its effective anti-drug policy, including against industrial drug production, which indicate a serious and dangerous increase.
They also called on the current Afghan authorities to step up cooperation with the regional countries in the fight against the threats of terrorism and drug trafficking emanating from the Afghan territory.
“Most participants stressed their opposition to the support for terrorism in Afghanistan by external forces,” it added.
The regional countries expressed disappointment at the Taliban interim government for its failure to ensure inclusivity in the interim government.
“Regretfully, [They] stated that there had been no progress in forming a truly inclusive government in Afghanistan, reflecting the interests of all ethno-political groups of the country. Despite the appointment of some individual representatives of various Afghan ethnicities to the Kabul administration, the parties observed no political pluralism in it,” the declaration further read.
They once again urged the current Afghan authorities to establish a practical, outcome-oriented dialogue with the representatives of alternative ethno-political groups with a view to completing the process of peaceful settlement and forging a balanced, more broad-based, inclusive, accountable and responsible government in Afghanistan.
The regional countries also called upon the current Afghan authorities to provide the necessary conditions to improve the welfare of the Afghan people, prevent their further migration and provide conditions for the return of the refugees.
“The participants spoke out for respect of fundamental rights and freedoms in Afghanistan, including equal rights to work, education and justice, without distinction as to gender, ethnicity or religion. Stressed upon their concern about imposed restrictions on women’s employment and girls’ education,” it added.
The participating regional countries also urged the current Afghan authorities to promote the modern education in the schools conforming to international standards.
It added that most of the participants of the Moscow format noted the UN secretary general’s efforts to coordinate actions between international and regional partners on the Afghan track during the meeting of Special Representatives in Doha in May 2023 and observed that cooperation with non-regional players is possible if the US-led Western coalition, whose 20-year actions led to the current crisis in Afghanistan, recognizes and shoulders its responsibility for post-conflict reconstruction of the country, and unfreeze the Afghan national assets and lift unilateral sanctions, immediately.
The parties advocated for Afghanistan as an independent, united and peaceful state. They underscored the unacceptability of deployment of military infrastructure facilities of third countries in Afghanistan and its neighboring states under any pretext.
While appreciating the prospects for the development of regional economic projects with participation of Afghanistan, they emphasized the need to strengthen bilateral and multilateral economic ties. The parties reaffirmed the opposition to attempts at politicizing humanitarian assistance and highlighted the importance of continuing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
They also expressed their interest in expanding engagement with the current Afghan authorities in the areas of culture, sport and education.
The parties noted the proposal of Iran to strengthen regional cooperation on Afghanistan by establishing a regional contact group to discuss the issues of common interests.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023