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Taliban: Pakistans OIC blunder, and what it must actually do for Afghanistan

Taliban: Pakistans OIC blunder, and what it must actually do for Afghanistan

As representatives of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) gathered for a conference on Afghanistan in Islamabad on Saturday, State-run Radio Pakistan tweeted that the “Foreign Minister of Afghanistan” had arrived in the city. The tweet accurately reflected the Pakistani establishment’s de facto recognition of the Taliban setup in Kabul, which has already been allowed to post four senior officials and dozens of other operatives in Afghan missions in Pakistan. But as numerous Twitter users pointed to the slip-up, Radio Pakistan deleted its tweet and posted another that described Amir Khan Muttaqi as the “Foreign Minister of [the] interim govt”. At a time when countries around the world have made it clear they have no intention of recognising the Taliban regime, key members of the Pakistan government have gone out of their way to advocate on behalf of the Taliban, calling for greater contacts with the setup in Kabul and the unfreezing of assets around the world. So much so that some Afghans have begun jokingly referring to Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi as the “foreign minister of Afghanistan”. While addressing the meeting of OIC foreign ministers in Islamabad on Sunday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan even went to the extent of trying to explain why it would not be immediately possible for the Taliban setup to ensure the education of girls and to protect the rights of women in a Pashtun-dominated society. “When you talk about human rights, every society is different. Every society’s idea of human rights and women’s rights are different,” Khan said. Khan described the Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan as a threat to Pakistan, as the group has carried out attacks from the “Afghan border into Pakistan”. His calls for stability in Afghanistan rang particularly hollow, given the amount of evidence that continues to emerge almost every day about the deep-rooted links between the Taliban and its benefactors in the Pakistani military establishment and hardline madrassas in Pakistan, which continue to raise funds and recruit for the group. Latest reports suggest that thousands of Taliban fighters and supporters have gone from Pakistan to Afghanistan in recent weeks to shore up the Taliban setup in Kabul. Within hours of Khan’s speech, there was pushback from several quarters, including Pakistani intellectuals and Afghan leaders. Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, who almost died after being shot in the head by a Taliban fighter, decried Khan’s speech. “Extremely disappointing: telling #OIC that basic human rights can be compromised for cultural sensitivities. Normalising Taliban’s misogyny+bigotry in the name of culture is shocking,” Yousafzai tweeted. The takedown by Malala, who struggled for life for weeks after being shot by the Taliban for opposing their ban on girls’ education, was sharper. “I nearly lost my life fighting against Taliban’s ban on girls’ education. Thousands of Pashtoon activists and notables lost their lives when they raised their voices against [the] Taliban’s horrors and millions became refugees. We represent Pashtoons — not the Taliban,” Malala tweeted. I nearly lost my life fighting against Taliban’s ban on girls’ education. Thousands of Pashtoon activists and notables lost their lives when they raised their voices against Taliban’s horrors and millions became refugees. We represent Pashtoons — not the Taliban. Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai too was scathing in dismissing Khan’s remarks in a post on his Facebook page. “Pakistans government should not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs and should avoid speaking on behalf of Afghanistan in international forums,” Karzai wrote. Such remarks are an insult to the people of Afghanistan, he added. Karzai also rubbished Khan’s remarks about the Islamic State, describing them as “obvious propaganda against Afghanistan”. He said the Islamic State had always been threatening Afghanistan from Pakistan, and not the other way around. Mahmoud Saikal, a former Afghan deputy foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations (UN), noted that Pakistan had hosted the first extraordinary meeting of OIC foreign ministers in 1980 to respond to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Alluding to the long-standing ties between the Pakistani military and the Taliban, he added, “Now a more neutral OIC member should have hosted the 17th Session to address the Pakistan proxy invasion of Afghanistan, a founding member of OIC.” Saikal further pointed out that OIC members account for more than a fourth of the UN’s membership and are obliged to respect the UN General Assembly’s decision of December 6 to defer the issue of the representation of Afghanistan at the world body. This decision essentially denied a place at the table for a Taliban representative. “Any manipulation of Pakistan to position its proxy Taliban as representative of Afghanistan to the OIC will be contrary to the will of the international community. Our struggle for the representation of an independent, democratic [and] proud Afghanistan will continue,” Saikal wrote on Twitter. The OIC meeting ended with the promise to set up a special fund for Afghanistan though none of the 57 members of the grouping fledged any money for a humanitarian response. If Pakistan is truly serious about helping the Afghan people, it could make a start by removing the various conditions it has attached to the shipping via land routes of life-saving medicines and 50,000 tonnes of wheat offered by India. Rezaul H Laskar heads the Foreign Affairs desk at Hindustan Times. His interests include movies and music. This is a modal window. Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window. End of dialog window. This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button..

world-news 2021-12-21 hindustantimes