Shehbaz’s UNGA speech sparks row with Kabul

Taliban say no armed group is present on Afghan soil


Kamran Yousaf September 25, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is addressing the UNGA session. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session has sparked a fresh diplomatic row between Pakistan and the Afghan interim government, which on Saturday denied the presence of any armed groups on Afghan soil.

On one hand, the prime minister urged the international community to remain engaged with the Afghan Taliban but on the other, he shared global concerns over the presence of terrorist groups on Afghan soil.

Shehbaz particularly mentioned the threat posed by the major terrorist groups operating from Afghanistan, especially ISIL-K and TTP as well as Al-Qaeda, ETIM and IMU. "They all need to be dealt with comprehensively, with the support and cooperation of the interim Afghan authorities," he insisted. His statement, however, was not taken well by the Afghan interim government, which put out a statement rejecting the allegations.

A formal reaction issued by the Afghan foreign ministry stated that some countries, including the United States and Pakistan, expressed concerns at the 77th session of the UNGA that the threat of terrorism still exists in Afghanistan.

“These concerns are based on incorrect information and sources and are being brought up as the relevant parties are yet to hand over the seat of Afghanistan at the United Nations to its rightful legal and political owners, the Afghan government,” the Afghan foreign ministry spokesperson claimed.

“If this right is indeed afforded to the Afghan government, it will open an opportunity to directly share ground realities of Afghanistan with regional and world countries and address any concerns,” the statement added.

The spokesperson said that the Islamic Emirate once again rejected such assertions and reiterated its position to the world. He added that the territory of Afghanistan will not be used against any other country nor does any armed group currently have a presence in Afghanistan.

“Rather than raising unsubstantiated concerns and allegations, the world should engage positively with the Islamic Emirate by sharing their view and concerns directly and not through the media or public statements,” he said.

Since the Taliban takeover, Pakistan has remained an advocate of the de-facto rulers of Afghanistan at the world forums. Islamabad has been consistently urging the international community, particularly the western world not to abandon the war-torn country.

But despite Pakistan’s push for international engagement, it is not happy with the Afghan Taliban government in dealing with the threat posed by terrorist groups, particularly the banned TTP.

Although the Afghan Taliban brokered a ceasefire deal between Pakistan and the TTP, terrorist attacks from across the border continue to take place.

Recently, Pakistan wrote a letter to the Afghan government about the presence of banned Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar in Afghanistan. Islamabad asked Kabul to arrest the most wanted man and asked them to hand him over to Pakistan.

The interim Afghan government, however, rejected those allegations and insisted that Azhar was not present on Afghan soil.

It was the lack of progress on tackling terror threats that prevented any moves leading towards the recognition of the Taliban government.

Unlike in the past, this time Pakistan is treading carefully in recognising the Taliban government. Pakistan has decided to go along with the regional and international countries on the issue of recognition.

Officials here feel that the Taliban, after initial steps, have not taken measures to fulfil the commitments made with the international community.

COMMENTS (4)

Mohammad Iqbal | 2 months ago | Reply

We Pakistan should let Taliban handle their matters. However we should take care of our security like Turkey does against Kurds

Shah Rukh Daud | 2 months ago | Reply

Shehbaz Sharif should have single stand on Afghanistan delima.

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