Pakistan, Russia, China and the United States on Thursday agreed to continue “practical engagement” with the Taliban government but asked them to follow “moderate policies”, while making it clear that the Kabul regime needed to do more before the international community formally recognised them.
The message was conveyed collectively by the special envoys of Pakistan, Russia, China and the US to the visiting Interim Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, who was invited to the Troika Plus meeting after the participants first held deliberations on rallying a consensus message to the Afghan foreign minister.
A closer look at the joint statement issued by the Troika Plus suggested that the international community was not yet ready to recognise the Taliban government, although, sources said, Muttaqi requested for it during his interaction with the envoys of the four countries.
While the joint statement agreed to remain engaged with the Taliban government, provide humanitarian and economic assistance, it reminded the Kabul administration of the steps it needed to take for formal recognition.
“Called on the Taliban to work with fellow Afghans to take steps to form an inclusive and representative government that respects the rights of all Afghans and provides for the equal rights of women and girls to participate in all aspects of Afghan society,” read the joint communiqué after meeting with Muttaqi.
The inclusive government is one of the three main conditions the international community, particularly the West, wants the Taliban to fulfil. A Pakistani official said the Taliban agreed to the need for the inclusive government but their definition of inclusivity was at variance from the outside world.
They emphasised that access to education for women and girls at all levels was an international obligation and encouraged the Taliban to accelerate efforts to provide full and equal access to education countrywide.
Pakistan said it was important to enhance engagement with the Taliban government. “We believe the Taliban are interested in engagement, as they seek international acceptance and support,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.
“It is therefore, crucial that the international community avoids repeating mistakes of the past and continues with positive engagement,” Qureshi said, while inaugurating the Troika Plus meeting.
This was the first meeting to the Troika Plus in Pakistan as well as since Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15. Also this was the first time that special envoys from these four countries met the interim Afghan foreign minister together.
Pakistani officials said the idea behind the meeting with the Afghan foreign minister was to convey a collective message from the key stakeholders of Afghanistan.
While Pakistan sought enhanced engagement with the Taliban government particularly to avert the humanitarian crisis, it also shared concerns of other countries on the issue of terrorism.
“Condemned in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and called on the Taliban to cut ties with all international terrorist groups, dismantle and eliminate them in a decisive manner, and to deny space to any terrorist organisation operating inside the country,” the joint statement said.
The Troika Plus reaffirmed their expectation that the Taliban would fulfil their commitment to prevent the use of Afghan territory by terrorists against its neighbours, other countries in the region and the rest of the world.
They also called on the Taliban to take a friendly approach towards neighbouring countries and to uphold Afghanistan’s international legal obligations, including universally accepted principles of international law and fundamental human rights and to protect the safety and legitimate rights of foreign nationals and institutions in Afghanistan.
While the Troika Plus may not be satisfied with the progress of the Taliban government on certain issues, yet it welcomed the Taliban’s continued commitment to allow the safe passage to all who wish to travel to and from Afghanistan.
They encouraged rapid progress, with the onset of winter, on arrangements to establish airports countrywide that could accept commercial air traffic, which would be essential to enable uninterrupted flow of humanitarian assistance.
They expressed deep concern regarding the severe humanitarian and economic situation in Afghanistan and reiterated unwavering support for the people of Afghanistan.
The joint statement welcomed the international community’s urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and expressed grave concern at the potential for an economic collapse and significantly worsening humanitarian crisis and a new refugee wave.
The statement called on the Taliban to ensure unhindered humanitarian access, including by women aid workers, for the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan to respond to the developing crisis.
The Troika Plus welcomed the greater role of the United Nations as coordinator in such fields as contributing to stability and delivering emergency assistance.
At the same time they urged the United Nations and its specialised agencies to develop programmes to implement the international community’s commitments to support the people of Afghanistan.
They also acknowledged international humanitarian actors’ concerns regarding the country’s serious liquidity challenges and committed to continue focusing on measures to ease access to legitimate banking services.
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