I have initiated a dialogue with the Taliban for an inclusive Afghan government: Pakistan PM

With the international community as also regional leaders raising the pitch for a more inclusive regime in Afghanistan instead of the all-male and mainly Pashtun interim government announced by the Taliban, Pakistan – the principal backer of the hardline Islamist group – says it has initiated a dialogue with the Taliban

Sep 18, 2021
Image
 Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

With the international community as also regional leaders raising the pitch for a more inclusive regime in Afghanistan instead of the all-male and mainly Pashtun interim government announced by the Taliban, Pakistan – the principal backer of the hardline Islamist group – says it has initiated a dialogue with the Taliban.

In a tweet, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said he initiated the dialogue for the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan representing multiple ethnic groups.

Imran Khan’s statement came after the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS) Summit in the Tajikistan capital Dushanbe, where regional leaders met to discuss the Afghanistan situation following the US withdrawal from the war-torn country.

"After meetings in Dushanbe with leaders of Afghanistan's neighbors and especially a lengthy discussion with Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, I have initiated a dialogue with the Taliban for an inclusive Afghan government to include Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks," he tweeted.

In a subsequent tweet, he added: "After 40 years of conflict, this inclusivity will ensure peace and a stable Afghanistan, which is in the interest not only of Afghanistan but the region as well."

Pakistan, considered the strongest ally of the Taliban, now wields much influence in Afghanistan.

Imran Khan had called upon the Taliban to ensure representation of all ethnic groups in Afghanistan during his address at the SCO-CHS summit on Friday.

"The Taliban must fulfill the pledges made, above all for an inclusive political structure where all ethnic groups are represented. This is vital for Afghanistan’s stability," he had said, adding it was also important to ensure respect for the rights of all Afghans while making certain never becomes a haven for terrorists.

Other leaders at the conference had pointed out that Afghanistan’s new interim cabinet almost exclusively comprised ethnic Pashtuns, the group's main support base.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had spoken via a video link, noted that the new provisional government could not be called representative or inclusive, “as we do not see representatives of other ethnic groups there. But we believe we need to work with it.”

Similarly, Chinese President Xi Jinping had said it was necessary to “encourage Afghanistan to put in place a broad-based and inclusive political framework” and to “resolutely fight all forms of terrorism” and live in peace with its neighbors.

He thought that Afghanistan should be guided to be more open and inclusive, and pursue moderate domestic and foreign policies.

In his speech, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the new Taliban government was not inclusive, and pointed out that the change in regime in Afghanistan happened without negotiation.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had also said his country expects the Taliban to form an inclusive government with representations from different communities and interests.

The Afghan Taliban had announced an interim government, comprising 33 members, earlier this month.

Before that, they had promised an "inclusive" government that represents Afghanistan's complex ethnic makeup, according to Dawn.

However, the current structure mainly comprises Pashtuns, who form less than half of Afghanistan’s population, and there is no participation of women yet in the interim setup.

(SAM)