EDITORIAL: In his wide-ranging speech at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit themed “Strengthening Multilateral Dialogue: Striving towards Sustainable Peace and Prosperity” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said “the recent terror activities [emanating from Afghanistan] have been a matter of great concern for all of us. Terrorism and extremism by individuals, groups or states must be fought collectively in a comprehensive fashion.”

There cannot be any justification for killing innocent people, he asserted, adding — in an indirect reference to India — nor the bogey of terrorism used for political point-scoring.

The PM emphasised that peace and security in Afghanistan is the linchpin for the achievement of SCO objectives, urging the international community to engage with the Afghan interim government and help meet its economic needs.

Incidentally, close on the heels of the SCO Summit, a UN-sponsored conference on Afghanistan was held in the Qatari capital Doha, the third of its kind. This one though was different in that it was attended by representatives of the interim Afghan government for the first time along with major international players.

Opinion, nonetheless, is sharply divided whether or not the conference was a productive exercise. Various rights organisations have strongly criticised the UN decision not to invite civil society groups, especially women, to the main meetings — a compromise made to ensure the Taliban’s participation.

In fact, talking to journalists at the conclusion of the two-day talks, their spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid happily declared that Afghanistan has come out of isolation while affirming, “we told the countries that Afghanistan’s internal issues, related to its people and women, are Afghanistan’s issue. They should not be used by other countries to apply political pressure”.

One of the attendees, European Union’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, defended giving concessions to the Taliban, saying that it allowed for “good discussion” with all parties, and that to have the opportunity to talk with the Taliban was worth it.

Understandably, rights people see the conference not only as a pointless effort but also legitimisation of the Taliban’s repressive regime.

Yet, engagement can facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid the Afghan people are badly in want of, and may also help ease some of the economic restrictions on the regime, persuading it to fulfil the earlier commitment its leadership, then out of power, gave to the international community not to allow the use of Afghan soil for attacks on other countries. No other country needs that more than Pakistan, bearing the brunt of cross-border attacks from Afghanistan-based TTP terrorists.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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KU Jul 11, 2024 01:12pm
True. Another grave concern is homegrown n polarising the society, its squeezing the rights of freedom n attempts at influencing judiciary as well as registering fake cases, its damaging society.
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