By Senator Rehman Malik
It has been an unfortunate time for the Afghan people who are suffering for the last thirty years with no relief mainly because of foreign intrusions and internal polarisation. They thought the withdrawal of American troops will bring peace, stability, prosperity, and harmony to them and their war-ridden country but peace is still a dream for them. One can see the same fear in Afghan society which they were once feeling from American soldiers and today they are terrified from their fellow nationals, the Afghan Taliban.
The sudden takeover of Afghanistan by the Afghan Taliban once again has made the USA furious which now is being transformed into further difficulties for the Afghan nation. The overall situation did remain conducive for the Afghan Taliban during the debate in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). I wanted to list below the reaction of some of the top international leadership to understand the common theme and the future international course of action against the Afghan government. The emerging reaction is almost the same trend which has been set by the USA against the Taliban. It reminds me of the reaction of the international community post 9/11. No country then dared to demand to have first the investigation and then react but the world joined the race against the Muslim world. This changed the face of the world. The world is having a non-serious approach towards the Afghan Taliban and is allowing them to continue their way and their way is a dangerous path where there is no value of human blood and rights. I hope the world will take it seriously and will march with the Taliban towards peace and not towards another bloody conflict, driving the Taliban to become part of the hybrid wars turning Afghanistan into a hub of terrorists and to expand their activities worldwide. The Taliban will be used for proxy wars if they are not led to the right path of humanity and in other words, the world needs to rehabilitate them.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, US President Biden once again took credit for having “ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan” and “opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.” His statement has been taken well worldwide. However, President Biden didn’t address whether the UN should recognise the Taliban formally as the government of Afghanistan. President Joe Biden tried to strike a positive tone on Afghanistan saying, “As we close this period of relentless war”, whereas the Secretary State Mr. Antony J. Blinken stated that they are planning more sanctions on the Afghan government which means the Afghan government has fewer chances of international support. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in his speech to the General Assembly regarding Taliban recognition said that Russia, China, Pakistan, and the USA are working together to ensure Taliban keep their promises and prevent extremism from spreading. The Russian Foreign Minister addressed the UN General Assembly, calling for a new consensus to uphold the “purposes and principles” of the UN’s founding document, the UN Charter, and a rejection of the Western-backed “Rules-Based Order” concept. He also criticised the Biden administration including for its hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. Lavrovba slammed the United States and its western allies for “persistent attempts to diminish the UN’s role in resolving the key problems of today.
The President of China did not comment on Afghan recognition except by stating that war is no solution to issues. The Emir of Qatar stressed the significance of the continued support of the international community to the Afghan people. “Boycotting them would only lead to polarisation and reactions, whereas dialogue could be fruitful.” Tajik President Emomali Rahmon called on the Taliban to form an inclusive government in neighbouring Afghanistan with the participation of all political and ethnic groups in order to allay tensions in the war-ridden country. He stated, “Recent developments in Afghanistan, linked to the political and humanitarian crisis and governance, pose a serious threat to regional security and stability.”
PM Imran Khan, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, called on the global community to strengthen and stabilise the Taliban government in Afghanistan and called upon to recognise the Taliban government. He argued “A destabilised, chaotic Afghanistan will again become a safe haven for international terrorists.”
Indian PM Modi delivered a speech against the Taliban saying, “it is absolutely essential to ensure that Afghanistan’s territory is not used to spread terrorism and for terrorist activities,” He again spoke negatively indirectly against Pakistan and did not support the recognition. He forgot his own terrorist financing in Balochistan and brutalities in Kashmir and that he is still notorious for being an extremist.
Analysing the speeches delivered by the most powerful heads of states, it is worth noting that none of them has vowed so far to recognise the Taliban government as yet. Also many including Russia, Germany, China, and USA have hinted on a precondition that the Taliban will have to abide by their promises of an inclusive government unlike that of the Islamic rule when they last governed the country from 1996 to 2001.
The Afghan Taliban were expecting that perhaps some countries would come forward to recognise their government but none of the international community hinted at their recognition.
I don’t think there are any intentions at the international level to give any relief to the Taliban. In the meantime, the American Secretary of State has stated that they are thinking of putting more sanctions on the Afghan Taliban and it looks like they will not release the reserves of the Afghan Taliban. Meanwhile, the world considers it a positive step that the US allowed aid for Afghanistan despite sanctions against the Taliban as it is granting two licenses allowing various entities to provide humanitarian assistance to the country.
Indeed, it is a positive move to pave the way for aid to flow into the economically-paralysed nation. The US Treasury Department on September 24, 2021, said it has issued two general licenses, one allowing the US government, NGOs, and certain international organisations including the United Nations to engage in transactions with the Taliban or Haqqani Network—both under sanctions—because they are necessary to provide humanitarian assistance. The second license authorises certain transactions related to the export and re-export of food, medicine, and other items. The “Treasury is committed to facilitating the flow of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and other activities that support their basic human needs,” Andrea Gacki, director of the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement. But, it will not resolve the main issue of the Afghan people. In the meantime, the international community must observe what is happening inside Afghanistan as there is complete unrest and there is a severe shortage of utilities. The Afghan Taliban neither have the financial ability nor do they have any reserves. The available resources are depleting day by day and unrest is increasing among the common man. They are mostly relying on Qatar but this is not the job of a single country. The interim government has not followed on what was agreed in the Doha Agreement. Afghan leadership has recently made it public that the females can go to school up to class 6th only which the world is not going to accept and this should not be accepted as women victimisation in Afghanistan will destroy the upcoming generations there.
In my personal opinion, the Afghan Taliban will remain unchanged and they have the potential to further annoy the world and there is a likelihood of a deadlock between the Afghan Taliban and world powers and their followers.
It is merciless that the UN, under the suppressed conscienceless world, is watching brutalities in Kashmir, Syria, Iraq and Nigeria. It is a way of the world and is full of injustice which forces the victims to pick up guns for their rights. It is wrong for both sides as the bullet and guns are neither the solution for the Afghan Taliban nor Anti-Afghan government countries and forces. The world should march towards peace and not towards a non-ending war.
I don’t think there are any intentions at the international level to give any relief to the Taliban.
(The writer is former Interior Minister of Pakistan, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Chairman of Think Tank “Global Eye”. He is the author of four books and his fifth book is about to get published. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik)