Kabul: Well, a day after India hosted security czars of almost all Central Asian countries to discuss the fragile security situation of Afghanistan, Pakistan too held the Troika Plus meet on Afghanistan on Thursday with diplomats from the United States, Russia and China and even an official from the acting Taliban government. Islamabad warned the international community not to isolate the war-torn nation which currently requires massive aid.
Go deeper: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his opening remarks at the extended Troika meet warned the international community not to repeat the mistake of keeping Afghanistan in isolation that had created multiple problems.
• He said Taliban were interested in having communication with the world so that their government is recognized.
• He said peace in Afghanistan was not only important for Pakistan, but for the rest of the world as well. Qureshi noted that no one wants a return of the civil war to Afghanistan.
• Qureshi also urged the international community to unfreeze the assets of Afghanistan, asserting that “it will help to launch economic activities” and help the Afghan government.
• Qureshi said being an immediate neighbour, Pakistan had a direct stake in Afghanistan’s peace and stability.
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• Pakistan has also discussed the idea of Afghanistan joining CPEC, its multi-billion dollar infrastructure project with China, which comes under the banner of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
• The meeting was attended by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s Special Representative to Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq, US State Department’s Special Representative and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Afghanistan Thomas West, Russia’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov and China’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Yao Jing.
Meanwhile, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi was also present in Islamabad but he did not attend the meeting. Muttaqi will meet with his Pakistani counterpart later on Thursday evening. According to Taliban’s foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the Muttaqi will also follow up with the special envoys on Afghanistan.
Why it matters? The dialogue is taking place at a time when the Taliban is seeking international recognition. However, the international community is not in hurry to give legitimacy to the Taliban interim government unless they fulfil their promises. This is the first full-fledged meeting of the Troika Plus after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. The last of this format was held in August in Doha, in which the US was represented by the former special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad. Also, it is the first visit to Pakistan by an acting Afghan minister since the Taliban seized control of Kabul in August.
Zoom out: Pakistan has been trying to convince the world to diplomatically engage with the Taliban after they seized control of Kabul on August 15. However, the international community is still sceptical about the hardline Islamists, especially on issues like terrorism emanating from the war-torn country and their promises to respect human rights. In fact, Pakistan’s national security adviser, speaking to a Pakistani media outlet, said that the Taliban’s acting government in Afghanistan is not as opposed to Pakistan as the government of former president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. Moeed Yusuf said that Pakistan has little control over the Afghan Taliban and that the country is independent and that its government has its own way of governing.
The big picture: What’s more important is that Pakistan is buying US military weapons from the Taliban to strengthen the security against Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), according to news agency ANi citing a news report. Cross-border violence has escalated in Pakistan since the time the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in mid-August this year. Major operations are running against militants in North Waziristan-the stronghold of TTP after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.