Seven weeks after the Taliban took control over Kabul and, three weeks after the announcement of the new caretaker government by the Taliban; the world’s powers are yet to recognize the ‘Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan who is also the youngest member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). A small nation like Nepal in South Asia is yet in dilemma on the issues of Afghanistan. Most of the SA nations have adopted the ‘wait and see’ policy.
During the UNGA in New York, world leaders are being gathered there. With COVID-19 as the outmost agenda, Afghanistan is next to it. So far, no nation has officially recognized IEA in Kabul neighbor like Pakistan, China, and others have concerns about lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the region.
Nepal, current chair of SAARC, in a statement issued two days after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, said- ‘The Government of Nepal has been closely following the recent developments in Afghanistan. We urge all parties concerned to ensure the safety, security, and wellbeing of the people.’
On the statement, Nepal wishes to see a long-lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan, as being a fellow member of SAARC, and the continued progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Afghanistan.
So as Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and other countries have issued similar statements. Bangladesh said it would study developments on whether to recognize the Taliban. ‘We believe in people’s government… We believe in democratic government,” he said, adding that Bangladesh’s door will remain open if the Taliban government is supported by the people of Afghanistan,’ Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said.
Pakistan in dialogue with Taliban
In South Asia most concerned about the Taliban took over are Pakistan and India. Pakistan has been in talks with the Taliban leadership since the Taliban took control of Kabul.
Pakistan, which has sent its intelligence chief to Kabul, has begun talks with the Taliban. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he has started a dialogue with the Taliban and called for the formation of an inclusive government for lasting peace and stability.
“After mtgs (meeting) in Dushanbe with leaders of Afghanistan’s neighbors & especially a lengthy discussion with Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, I have initiated a dialogue with the Taliban for an inclusive Afghan govt (government) to include Tajiks, Hazaras & Uzbeks.” PM Khan said in a tweet thread on Sep 18, ‘After 40 years of conflict, this inclusivity will ensure peace & a stable Afghanistan, which is in the interest not only of Afghanistan but the region as well.’
Earlier, this month Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had discussed with Afghanistan’s neighbor foreign ministers.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Qureshi has held talks with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on the sidelines of the General Assembly. Qureshi, in a meeting with a UN envoy, said Pakistan is not in a hurry to recognize the Taliban government, adding that the Taliban must fulfill its international commitment to recognition.
Pakistan has intensified its collective and separate discussions with Afghanistan’s neighbors. Pakistan is pushing for ministerial and government-level discussions.
India’s concern is Kashmir
Kashmir is India’s main concern as it is closely monitoring the Afghan issue. It fears that the Kashmir issue will be raised as soon as the Taliban take control of Afghanistan. That’s why India has stepped up its dialogue with the Taliban. Two weeks after the Taliban took control of Kabul, India held formal talks with Taliban representatives. Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal had a meeting with Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikazai, the head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha. This is the first time an Indian diplomat has met with a Taliban representative. Even though the Taliban came to power in 1996, India did not recognize the Taliban government at that time.
The resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan has added a new challenge to India in Kashmir. This issue was also raised by India during the talks in Doha. Shortly after the Doha talks, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the BBC – “As Muslims, we also have a right to raise our voice for Muslims in Kashmir, India or any other country.” However, he said the Taliban would not take up arms against any country.
The Taliban, meanwhile, has told various media outlets that India and Pakistan should work together to resolve the Kashmir issue. The same interest was seen in Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the United States.
There he met with US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harry. The Taliban issue was discussed during the meeting. India has closed its consulates in Afghanistan.
China’s concern on Xinjiang
China has been in dialogue with the Taliban since before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. On July 28, China welcomed Taliban delegates to its mainland. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi hold the talk with the Taliban’s political commission and current first acting deputy Prime Minister, Abdul Ghani Baradar.
State Councilor Yi express his commitment as a great neighbor of Afghanistan, China had respected Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence, and geographical integrity, and would be friendly in accordance with his non-interference policy in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.
Wang Yi stressed that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) has posed a direct threat to China’s national security and territorial integrity. “We hope the Afghan Taliban will make a clean break with all terrorist organizations including the ETIM and resolutely and effectively combat them to remove obstacles, play a positive role and create enabling conditions for security, stability, development, and cooperation in the region,” Yi stated.
During the meeting, Baradar expressed his commitment not to allow any terrorists to use its territory against China, expecting a positive role for peace and rehabilitation in Afghanistan.
Accordingly, China has stepped up its assistance to Afghanistan since taking control of the Taliban. The day after the Taliban took over Kabul, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded by saying that she respects the choices of the Afghan people.
As Western powers seek a “wait-and-see” approach to recognizing Taliban rule in Afghanistan, China has extended a helping hand. On September 8, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Yi announced that China would provide 200 million dollars worth of food and health care and 3 million doses of vaccine against COVID-19 as a grant. China, which did not recognize the Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001, is now preparing to extend a helping hand to other nations.
On September 17, Chinese President Xi put forward a three-point proposal on Afghanistan.
First, promote the smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan as soon as possible. Second, contact and talk with Afghanistan. Third, help the Afghan people tide over the difficulties.
First, humanitarian assistance is of utmost urgency. Second, economic sanctions must stop. Third, interactions and engagement must be inclusive. Fourth, counter-terrorism cooperation should be deepened. Fifth, both the symptoms and root causes of the refugee issue need to be addressed. And, Sixth, various mechanisms should coordinate for greater efficiency.
Since the Taliban took over, China is engaging in bilateral and multilateral dialogue on Afghanistan. Special envoys from China, Russia, and Pakistan have visited Kabul at the invitation of the Taliban.
All three countries called on the international community to step up humanitarian assistance to the Taliban. The delegation also met with former President Hamid Karzai and Chairman of the High-Level Council on National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah.
In the end,
China’s main interest is in the Xinjiang region. Another concern is that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) could be a convenient route for China to connect Central Asia and Europe via Afghanistan. Pakistan concern about terrorism and India’s concern is in Kashmir. To the countries like Nepal, Afghanistan’s issue is the issue of regional peace and stability.
The political situation in Afghanistan is likely to have a significant impact on South Asia and Central Asia. Each one has an interest in peace and security in Afghanistan. If there is war and unrest in Afghanistan, this region will also be affected by the unrest. In such a scenario, not only its neighbors but also multinational organizations as well as SAARC can play an important role in stabilizing Afghanistan.
Regional peace and stability will enhance regional cooperation on emerging and common interests of our shared future. This Pan-Himalayan region connecting Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Nepal, and to the east have common issues of climate change and global warming. These countries could collectively work on preserving our Himalayas from common issues. Peace and stability Afghanistan will enhance the connectivity between South and East Asia with Central Asia and Europe. This connectivity will help in our common development too.