Conference on Afghanistan

ALMOST three months after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, India is hosting the conference on the country on November 10  to be attended by Russia, Iran and Central Asian countries. Pakistan National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf who was also invited to the conference has, however, refused to attend, terming India as “a spoiler.” Response from China, Pakistan’s close ally, is awaited.

India has taken a serious exception to Pakistan’s refusal to participate describing it as the result of Pakistan’s mindset to treat Afghanistan as its “protectorate.”  India has also viewed Taliban takeover in Kabul with concern. One of New Delhi’s major worries has been the potential use of Afghan soil as a terror safe haven under the Taliban. India also seeks inclusion and the protection of the rights of minorities, women and children. But so far the signs have not been encouraging. Taliban has not been open to sharing power. Similarly, the religious outfit has been reluctant to accommodate women.  The west has promised aid only if the Taliban reforms and shows itself amenable to share power with the minorities. Initially, after taking power, the Taliban made the right noises, assuring the neighbouring countries that it won’t allow foreign jihadi organizations to make Afghanistan their home.

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  This is likely to make the global recognition of the new Kabul government harder.

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.

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. The conference in New Delhi will also make things clear. There could be the hope of developing some regional consensus on Afghanistan which could set the process in motion for recognizing the Taliban provided it makes desired changes in its style of functioning.

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