US seeks consensus against Afghan Taliban after deviation from Doha deal

US special envoy Thomas West held a series of meetings in Islamabad to recalibrate the Afghan strategy

Kamran Yousaf January 30, 2023
Taliban fighters hold Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan flags as they drive though Kabul.—Reuters photo


The United States is building a fresh consensus among key regional and international players against the Afghan Taliban government after the de facto rulers banned female education and resorted to other steps that Washington believes are contrary to the Doha deal.

As part of efforts to recalibrate the Afghan strategy, US Special Representative for Afghanistan (SRA) Thomas West on Monday held a series of meetings in Islamabad.

Official sources confirmed to The Express Tribune that the US point-man for Afghanistan met his Pakistani counterpart Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq, Foreign Secretary Asad Majid, and other relevant officials.

The visit came against the backdrop of growing anxiety in Pakistan as well as other countries including the US over the Afghan Taliban's policies that are seen as deviations from the commitments that the ultra-orthodox group made with the international community.

Also read: US confirms cancelled talks with Taliban over nixing of girls’ education

The Taliban's move to ban female from attending universities drew strong reaction from the US and other countries. The interim government took the decision when the world was expecting them to open schools for all girls.

The return to hardline policies by the Afghan Taliban has diminished chances of any international recognition, according to officials. Unlike the past, Pakistan has decided to go along with the international consensus on Afghanistan.

Ahead of the three-country tour that will take him to Switzerland and Germany after Pakistan, the US special envoy said in a statement that the purpose of the visit was to consult with partners, Afghans, and humanitarian relief organisations

Thomas West, however, expressed concerns over the recent Taliban moves.

"The Taliban’s recent edicts have presented the international community with extraordinary challenges as we seek to support the Afghan people and protect our interests," his office said.

The US envoy will work with counterparts to refine a unified regional and international response that reflects a collective commitment to Afghan women and girls’ rights and access to vital aid, according to the statement.

The visit of the US special envoy coincided with a deadly terrorist attack in Peshawar in which scores of people, mostly police officials, were martyred.

Also read: US committed to Doha deal, Taliban told

The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility of the suicide bombing inside the highly fortified Police Lines area. Pakistan believes that the TTP is operating out of Afghanistan with impunity.

In a departure from earlier policy, the Afghan Taliban condemned the suicide attack and said that targeting a mosque could not be justified.

It is rare for the Afghan Taliban to publically denounce a TTP attack in Pakistan.

Officials hope that this change of approach would translate into actions on the ground.


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