The world community may continue to deny any recognition and representation to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, in the near-future at least, going by the developments during the eventful last week at the United Nations General Assembly.
Clear indication comes from refusal to permit the Taliban representative to address the UNGA and instead, invite representative of the ousted Ashraf Ghani Government. It is collective hardening of stand.
Contributing majorly to this impasse is Pakistan’s aggressive campaign at the United Nations in support of the Afghan Taliban. It has caused anger in the United States, revulsion in Europe and opposition at home for the Imran Khan Government.
Pakistan has inexplicably created bad blood with the US by attacking its Afghanistan policy. Analysts say this may harden American stand on reaching economic aid, not just to the Afghans, but to even to Pakistan that is struggling to tackle an economy in duress.
Analysts ask why Islamabad needs to be so strident, now that the US has quit Afghanistan. They attribute it to excessive confidence over China’s support and to garner support among the Islamic nations. But neither can bail out Pakistan’s economy the way America can. And an angry Biden administration can create enough obstacles on road to Pakistan getting any IMF or WB loan.
Smarting under the humiliating exit, no matter who made the mistakes, the American public opinion cannot ignore the frequent, considerable talking at and even talking down to the US coming from Pakistan. Making a public issue of Biden not calling on phone is considered churlish in the world of diplomacy. Asking the US to be ‘patient’ and ‘considerate’ with the Taliban amounts to rubbing the proverbial salt on the wound at this juncture. This is especially when the Taliban have displayed doggedness on keeping their own commitment on forming an inclusive government.
To Islamabad’s chagrin, Russia, China and the US are on the same page on the Taliban having an inclusive government. They have ignored Prime Minister Imran Khan’s harangue about the futility of ‘imposing’ a government on Afghanistan “from outside”.
The Taliban have not been helpful. The week during the UNGA debate witnessed hardline Maulana Nooruddin Turabi, in charge of jails, announcing that harsh punishments like cutting off of hand and whipping and beheading of those found guilty would be re-imposed.
To prove him right, four persons – possibly minority Shia – who were charged with kidnapping and robbery, being beheaded and their blood splattered bodies hung in public.
Given such responses that see the Taliban going back on their own commitments to rule with a semblance of human touch, it is hardly surprising that at the UN, earlier moves by the so-called China-Russia-Pakistan axis failed to cut much ice. Everyone agreed that the Taliban ensure that their soil is not used for exporting terror and that they work to form a government that includes the ethnic minorities and women. The inclusion of some Hazaras has not satisfied the world community.
The American attitude, no matter their defeat-scarred withdrawal from Afghanistan was clear. Vice President Kamala Harris agree, suo motto, on Pakistan’s role in fomenting terror trouble in the region and by implication, becoming the “devil’s advocate.” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken focused on Pakistan’s role in the Afghan crisis.
This diplomatic setback at the UN has had direct repercussions at home and have the effect of dampening the prevailing triumphal mood at the ‘achievement’ in Afghanistan.
Influential newspaper Dawn (September 26, 2021) listed Taliban’s numerous fautlines and said that “this intractability may appeal to the Taliban hardliners but it will ensure that their government will not get the recognition they want any time soon.”
Rejecting the government’s sustained campaign promoting the Taliban, it counselled that “Pakistan should also not press for it if the Taliban refuse to bend. The international community is justified in using recognition as a pressure tool to extract some fundamental reforms from the Taliban. Pakistan should do its part to persuade the Taliban to see reason. Pakistan should also spell out for them in no uncertain terms that without recognition and financial assistance, the Taliban will struggle to sustain themselves in power.”
The newspaper’s former editor Abbas Naseer in his Sunday column warned that “Pakistan may be advocating global engagement with the ‘changed’ Taliban and arguing for Western funds to flow to Afghanistan to ward off hunger that large swaths of the population will soon be facing so that a flood of refugees doesn’t come knocking at its door soon.
“But in the process it is also giving an undertaking of sorts that the Taliban will behave in a certain manner over the coming months and in the future. Ergo, leaving itself exposed to international recriminations if Kabul’s new rulers revert to their old ways.
“Pakistan will be exposed to international recrimination if the Taliban revert to their old ways,” Naseer has warned. Such warnings notwithstanding, a strong opinion persists in Pakistan that like they sat out the American withdrawal from their country, the Taliban may hold out against global demand for their having an inclusive government. It would be a matter of time before the world community comes around and for this Pakistan must continue with its campaign for getting “humanitarian aid” for the Afghans.