Taliban Challenge

THE recent session of the United Nations General Assembly also helped bring focus back on the Taliban. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan also raised the situation in Taliban ruled Afghanistan, with Khan lobbying for engaging the Taliban rather than boycotting them. This, according to the Pakistan PM will incentivize the Taliban to moderate. But New Delhi has expressed its  concerns about recognizing the Taliban before the latter mends its hardline ways.

As things stand, the world is indecisive about recognizing the Taliban government. Taliban has also not helped the matters by again enforcing the harsh old laws  Some of the regime’s recent diktats have barred the movement of women.  Earlier this month, the Taliban barred female employees from entering the ministry of women affairs in Kabul, allowing only males into the building. Taliban-appointed chancellor of Kabul University has barred women from attending classes or work at the varsity "until an Islamic environment is created". The Taliban has also yet to accommodate women in its government. This is likely to make the global recognition of the new Kabul government harder.

Meanwhile, the financial situation in Afghanistan is on the brink of collapse. The country’s banking system, according to the Chief Executive of the Islamic Bank of Afghanistan, is about to unravel.

However, the situation is still unfolding in the war-scarred country and it is too early to predict what will happen in the days and weeks to come. And then it remains to be seen which country or countries will be the first to recognize it. China has already said it was ready for “friendly relations” with the Taliban, while Russia and Iran have also made diplomatic overtures.

Pakistan, which is regarded as the benefactor of Taliban, is also approaching the issue with some caution. On the other hand, the governments in the west, including the United States, are likely to take more time. The US has already frozen about $9.5 billion of the Afghan government’s reserves in US banks after the Taliban seized Kabul. The US wants the Taliban to behave responsibly and follow through on its promise not to allow Al Qaeda to operate from Afghanistan before it gives recognition to a Taliban-led government.

Be that as it may,  the situation will certainly change for the good if the Taliban translates their promises on running an inclusive government into reality. And if it convinces the world that it has changed. But until that happens, the geopolitical shift that the Taliban victory has occasioned is likely to change the regional situation in unpredictable ways.

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