Pakistan should now recognise New Afghan Govt
THE Taliban have come to power in Afghanistan as a result of the Doha Agreement signed between the then Trump Administration and the Taliban, on 29 February 2020, and the implementation of the deal by two parties, culminating into the completion of the withdrawal of the US/NATO forces by 31 August 2021, which enabled the Taliban’s final takeover of the entire country including Kabul, on 15 August 2021.
The Doha Agreement clearly indicated that the US and the NATO countries had accepted the Taliban as the main stakeholder in the affairs of Afghanistan.
And, much before the Doha Agreement and especially after signing of the agreement, except India, all the regional countries including China, Russia, CARs, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and the Gulf States had started consultations with the Taliban as they had also accepted them as the future power broker in Afghanistan.
The acceptance of the Taliban as the main stakeholder by the US/NATO countries is further amplified by the following points of the Doha Deal.
The Taliban will guarantee that Afghanistan’s soil will not be used by any terrorists against the US and its allies.
The US will provide guarantees that the US/NATO troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn by 01 May 2021 (later extended by President Biden to 31 August 2021). The Taliban will start a dialogue with the Ghani Government by 10 March 2020.
As a result of the dialogue, both the Taliban and the Ghani Administration will reach an agreement on a permanent cease-fire, future political road-map of Afghanistan and an inclusive interim government.
The Doha Deal also states that with the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, the US will initiate actions to remove the current sanctions against members of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban by August 27, 2020 and remove names of its members from the UNSC sanctions list by May 29, 2021.
The two sides, — the US and Taliban — gave guarantees about their responsibilities as per the Doha Agreement by signing the deal in front of other countries acting as the international guarantors.
Both sides freed each other’s prisoners, although the Ghani Administration delayed the release of the Taliban prisoners which also delayed the intra0Afghan dialogue, which was otherwise supposed to start on 10 March 2020.
The intra-Afghan dialogue between the Taliban and Ghani Government delegation started in September 2020.
Although a few rounds of talks were held at Doha, but without any outcome and the dialogue got stalled, as the Ghani administration was not sincere in achieving the results, since they wanted to cling to power in Afghanistan.
To make the dialogue meaningful, President Ghani even did not listen to Blinken’s letter signalling to him that a power-sharing agreement with the Taliban should be decided.
In this whole process, India was acting as the major spoiler, as it was ill advising the Ghani government, because it wanted to continue to use the Afghan soil to sponsor terrorism in Pakistan.
Despite all this, President Biden remained determined to complete the withdrawal of the US/NATO troops by 31 August 2021, as he stated that the US/allies had attained their objectives in Afghanistan of dismantling Al-Qaeda Network and killing of Osama Bin Laden.
Hence, the US/NATO forces completed their withdrawal by 31 August 2021, the Taliban gradually kept gaining control of the Afghan provinces as the Afghan army troops kept surrendering, and despite President Ghani’s appeal to the people of Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, the people cooperated with them.
Resultantly, President Ghani also fled Afghanistan on 14 August 2021. This all facilitated the Taliban’s unexpected entry into Kabul on 15 August 2021 without firing a bullet, as the Afghan army just disappeared.
In view of the above discussion, the acceptance of the Taliban as the main stakeholders in Afghanistan by the US/NATO countries, the neighbouring/regional countries, and the Afghan people, and the willingness expressed by these countries to work with the Taliban, it can be concluded that the Taliban Government attains a legitimacy to rule Afghanistan at least for the next five years, which are required by them to govern Afghanistan through an inclusive government, to decide a future political roadmap of Afghanistan, to display their resolve to ensure rights of the women, and eliminate any remnants of terrorist groups.
Therefore, while it is important for the US/EU and other countries to recognize the Taliban Government in Afghanistan without any preconditions and restore Afghanistan’s economic assistance to stabilize the country and ensure welfare of its people, for the regional countries and especially Pakistan, it is a strategic necessity to immediately recognize the new Afghan government and sustain it economically to ensure that the objectives of the regional peace, regional economic connectivity and the CPEC-based economic progress, which are about to be realized, are not lost.
For Pakistan the stakes are too high as any kind of internal strife in Afghanistan due to its economic meltdown will adversely impact it, more than any other country in the region.
Hence, while Pakistan should take a lead and recognize the new Afghanistan Government, it should also convince China, Russia and the Muslim countries to recognize the new Afghan government so that these countries can provide the emergency economic aid to Afghanistan.
—The writer, a retired Col, is Senior Research Fellow at Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad.