PM makes a strong case



AS the world is still caught up in a state of indecision on the issue of establishing closer ties with the Taliban Government in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again made a strong case on the need to engage the Taliban warning that failure to do so could push them to old ways.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Middle East Eye, a London-based online news outlet, he asked the United States to ‘pull itself together’ or face the collapse of the war-torn country, which would become a haven of terrorists.

It is a timely warning and if ignored, the United States and its allies could find themselves in a more awkward position than they are at the moment due to their delayed realization that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.

There are all the reasons to engage the Taliban: they are reformed and attentive to the concerns being expressed by the international community; are in a position to form the most powerful central government in Afghanistan in decades; are willing to talk to political rivals at home and antagonists abroad and offer bright prospects for handling the issue of terrorism and drug trafficking in a most effective manner.

Recent terrorist incidents in Afghanistan clearly hinted that the Daesh is becoming a potent threat not just to Afghanistan but also to the neighbouring countries and ultimately it would, once again, threaten security interests of other nations of the globe.

As the Taliban have made a public commitment not to allow the Afghan soil to be used against any other country or for terrorist pursuits, it is the responsibility of the influential countries of the world to encourage them to fulfil this commitment.

It was, perhaps, in this backdrop that the Prime Minister has tried to sensitize the United States that it has no other option but to do everything to support a stable government in Afghanistan because “the Taliban was the only option for fighting Islamic State (IS) in the region” and to prevent the ascendency of hardline elements within the Taliban’s own ranks”.

The remarks made by acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Amir Khan Muttaqi at an event in Doha on Monday were also important in this regard as he emphatically stated that the new Government in Afghanistan is able to control the threat from Islamic State.

He said instability in Afghanistan was not in anyone’s interest and he called for cooperation from the world community, saying Afghanistan would not be a base for attacks on other countries.

The Taliban have also expressed their desire to have peaceful ties and meaningful relations with all countries of the world including those against whom they waged a war for twenty years.

They held talks with the United States in Qatar where they urged the full implementation of the Doha agreement, saying it was the best way for resolving problems that emerged after the takeover of Kabul by the group in August this year.

Given the precarious economic and financial conditions in Afghanistan, Doha talks should have centred on ways and means to disburse humanitarian aid to the war-torn country on an urgent basis but regrettably the focus of the United States was on peripheral issues – security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for US citizens, other foreign nationals and Afghans, as well as on human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society.

There is hardly any logic to put unnecessary stress on these issues when the new Government posed no hurdles in the way of safe evacuation despite genuine apprehensions of brain-drain and so far there were no issues of human rights.

The only human rights issue in Afghanistan these days is the pathetic conditions of the people as Afghanistan’s economy is in a parlous state with international aid cut-off, food prices rising and unemployment spiking.

In fact, the United States and the European Union are wasting time on false assumptions and this could lead to serious consequences for Afghan people and whatever governmental system is there in place.

If the US and its allies could not impose their will on Afghan people during the last twenty years despite enjoying military superiority, they are unlikely to gain anything worthwhile by repeating the mistake of solving issues through pressure tactics.

They should, therefore, listen to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and enter into positive engagement with the Taliban Government.

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