Pakistan set to host envoys from Afghanistan, 'extended Troika'

Afghan FM Muttaqi will arrive in Islamabad on Wednesday on a first visit since Taliban returned to power


Kamran Yousaf November 09, 2021
Afghanistan's Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, pictured at the foreign ministry in Kabul on September 14, 2021, says the Taliban seek "positive relationships" with the world. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan is set to host the interim Afghan foreign minister as well as special envoys from the United States, Russia and China as part of diplomatic efforts aimed at preparing the ground for the international community’s recognition of the Taliban government.

Interim Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, leading a high-powered delegation, will arrive in Islamabad on Wednesday on his official first visit since the Taliban returned to power after the chaotic exit of US-led foreign forces from Afghanistan in August.

A spokesperson for the Afghan foreign minister confirmed on Twitter that a senior delegation led by Muttaqi would be travelling to Islamabad on November 10.

Read more: Taliban deny Pakistan’s interference

“Delegation will discuss enhancing ties, economy, transit, refugees and expanding facilities for the movement of people and will include ministers and working groups from finance and trade ministers,” Abdul Qahar Balkhi said.

Last month, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Kabul and announced a raft of measures to help Afghanistan’s faltering economy as well as extending humanitarian assistance.

Since the fall of Kabul on August 15, Pakistan has been at the forefront urging the international community to remain engaged with the new dispensation in Afghanistan.

As the interim Afghan foreign minister is set to arrive in Islamabad, Pakistan is also hosting a meeting of the extended Troika, comprising Pakistan, the US, China and Russia on Thursday.

Also read: Taliban govt won’t allow TTP, BLA to ‘attack Pakistan’: FM

The extended troika, one Pakistani official said, is the most important and potent grouping of the key Afghan stakeholders. Even before the Taliban took control of Kabul, the four countries have been collectively urging the Taliban to meet the international community’s commitment on the formation of an inclusive government, protection of human and women rights and not allowing the Afghan soil to be used again by terrorists.

It is expected that the interim Afghan foreign minister would join the special envoys from Pakistan, Russia, China and the US to discuss the way forward.

Although Pakistan wants the international community to accept the new reality in Afghanistan, it has decided not to take solo flight on the issue of recognition.

Also read: Interim Afghan FM’s visit on the cards

Officials said that Pakistan would go along with the international community on the issue of formal recognition. Pakistan feels that while the interim Taliban government has made all the right calls, it also needs to take steps to satisfy the international community.

While recognition is one of the subjects to be discussed during the interim foreign minister’s visit as well as the meeting of the extended Troika, the immediate worry is the humanitarian crises unfolding in the neighbouring country.

Pakistan, Russia and China have shared a similar view that the US must unfreeze the Afghan central bank’s $9.5 billion assets. The US, however, is reluctant to do that as it is using it as leverage to persuade the Taliban to accept some of the demands made by the international community.

The meeting of the extended Troika comes at a time when India is separately hosting a meeting of national security advisers of regional countries. But Pakistan and China, both key players, skipped the New Delhi meeting.

The timing of the extended Troika meeting in Islamabad underlines that despite India’s efforts to become relevant to the Afghan situation Pakistan remains the key player.

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