Troika Plus to press Taliban on meeting commitments

Afghan interim FM arrives in Islamabad on three-day visit


Kamran Yousaf November 11, 2021
This will be the first time special envoys of the four countries meet Amir Khan Muttaqi together. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Top diplomats from Pakistan, Russia, China and the US will press the Taliban government to fulfil the commitments it made with the international community when they hold a face-to-face meeting with the interim foreign minister of Afghanistan on Thursday.

“This will be the first time special envoys of the four countries meet Amir Khan Muttaqi together and remind him of the promises made by the Taliban government to meet the expectations of the international community,” official sources told The Express Tribune.

The international community has set certain benchmarks for the group before it starts considering recognition of the Taliban government. They include inclusive government, protection of women and human rights and not allowing the Afghan soil to be used again by terrorist outfits.

Also read: China to attend Pakistan-hosted 'extended Troika' summit on Afghanistan

A Western diplomat, while speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that the

Taliban government has failed to fulfil the conditions so far. “We want to see actions rather than mere words,” the diplomat added while ruling out the possibility of immediate recognition of the Taliban government.

But the diplomat added that the world is willing to remain engaged with the Taliban to avert a humanitarian crisis.

A Pakistani official also confirmed that the question of recognition would come later as at this stage the key issue is to evolve a regional and international consensus.

The official said Pakistan would go along with the international community and share its perspective that the Taliban government needed to do more.

However, Pakistan, China and Russia feel that the West’s approach of penalising the Taliban government by blocking the Afghan foreign assets is not going to work.
Islamabad, Moscow and Beijing have been urging the US to unfreeze $9.5 billion of the Afghan central bank.

Also read: Pakistan set to host envoys from Afghanistan, 'extended Troika'

The US, however, is using the foreign assets of Afghanistan as leverage to persuade the Taliban government to accept the international community’s demands.

But the US sending its envoy to attend the Troika Plus meeting is indicative of the Biden administration’s desire of taking a more pragmatic approach on the issue. This is going to be the first full-fledged meeting of the Troika Plus since the Taliban returned to power.

Moscow hosted the October 19 meeting but the US did not attend it, citing logistic reasons. But Washington has now re-joined the Troika Plus process, suggesting the importance of the regional grouping. Thomas West, who has replaced Zalmay Khalilzad as US special envoy for Afghanistan, will attend the troika plus meeting.

“Together with our partners, he will continue to make clear the expectations that we have of the Taliban and of any future Afghanistan government,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told a briefing this week.

Another Pakistani official said the Troika Plus is the most important forum as it represents key Afghan stakeholders. “Pakistan, Russia, China and the US want to convey a collective message to the Taliban government,” the official said.

Also read: Troika Plus seeks Afghan roadmap in 10 days

A statement issued by the Foreign Office ahead of the crucial meeting said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will inaugurate the Troika Plus meeting.

“Special representatives/envoys for Afghanistan from China, Russian Federation, United States and Pakistan will participate in the Troika Plus meeting in Islamabad on 11 November 2021,” it added.

“Pakistan attaches high importance to the Troika Plus mechanism on the situation in Afghanistan.

Pakistan hopes that deliberations of the Troika Plus meeting would contribute to the ongoing efforts for achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” the statement read.

China and Russia both confirmed they were sending their Afghan envoys to the meeting.

"China supports all international efforts that are beneficial towards promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan, and firm up consensus on all sides," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a routine briefing.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a press conference on Wednesday that the group welcomes the various regional meetings.

"We have no worries, the meetings will be for Afghanistan's benefit because the entire region believes that the security of Afghanistan is for the benefit of all," he said.

Meanwhile, the interim Afghan foreign minister arrived in the federal capital on Wednesday on a three-day visit. He was received at the Airport by Prime Minister’s Adviser on Commerce Razak Dawood and Pakistan’s special envoy on Afghanistan Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq.

This is the first visit by the interim Afghan foreign minister since the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15. Muttaqi is set to hold formal talks with his Pakistani counterpart and meet Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as the military leadership.

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