LM NEWS 24
LM NEWS 24

Taliban Snubs Pak At OIC Conference In Islamabad

At the meeting of foreign ministers of Muslim countries in Islamabad, Afghanistan was represented by an Afghan ministry official and not by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, indicating that all was not well with the leadership of the two countries.

Despite the fact that Islamabad supported the Taliban take over of Afghanistan last year, the absence of Afghan foreign minister at the 48th Council of Foreign Ministers (CFMs) of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation that began here earlier on Tuesday reflects a strain in ties between the two countries.

Afghanistan is being represented at the two-day conference by Foreign Ministry official of the Taliban named Muhammad Akbar Azeemi, Dawn reported.

The Taliban had sent Muttaqi to the extraordinary session of the OIC foreign ministers in Islamabad in December. But his absence this time at OIC is significant.

It is to be noted that Afghanistan is high on the agenda at the Pakistan conference. It is a diplomatic setback for Pakistan that facilitated Taliban’s return to power in Kabul last August and has since been campaigning their cause before the world, seeking foreign aid to meet “urgent humanitarian needs” of Afghanistan whose economy has collapsed.

Muttaqi is a familiar figure in Pakistan where he has lived for over two decades since his government was ousted following the US-led operations in the wake of 9/11. He has also been a frequent visitor trying to troubleshoot issues that crop up between the two neighbours, ranging from tensions on the border to access to the outside world to the sea route via Pakistan.

“There had been a lot of debate over Muttaqi’s participation in the last OIC meet in Islamabad when he was missing in the foreign ministers’ group photo while the Afghan seat had remained vacant. Muttaqi was sitting in the last rows of guests,” Dawn newspaper reported.

Analysts say this is Afghanistan’s ambivalent response to the universal refusal to recognize the new regime.

The world community has been urging the Taliban to form an inclusive government that has a representation of women and ethnic and religious minorities. None of the 57 countries represented at the Conference, including Pakistan, has recognized the Taliban regime.

There is no word if the recognition of the regime, or an assessment of the measures to make Afghanistan’s governance ‘inclusive’ is on the agenda. It is also likely that the Taliban have chosen to keep a low profile at the conference where no major breakthrough is expected.

Also, Kabul may want to play safe vis-a-vis Islamabad which is witnessing a major political crisis, awaiting resolution of its outcome. Prime Minister Imran Khan, a vocal campaigner of the Taliban regime, is under serious challenge with his parliamentary majority under a cloud.

Pakistan’s National Assembly is scheduled to take up an opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Government. (ANI)

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