CIA Director William Burns met with Pakistan’s military leadership to discuss the Afghan situation as the withdrawal has completed and a caretaker government has been announced by the Taliban.
According to the recent Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement, “Mr. William Joseph Burns, Director Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), USA called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) & Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).”
The statement added, “During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security situation, and current situation in Afghanistan were discussed. It was reiterated that Pakistan remains committed to cooperate with its international partners for peace in the region and ensuring a stable and prosperous future for Afghan people.”
CIA chief meets Pakistan Army Chief and DG ISI to discuss the Afghan situation. pic.twitter.com/HOgkRwBvw0
— Kamran Yousaf (@Kamran_Yousaf) September 9, 2021
Following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Western nation is looking for bilateral cooperation to protect its strategic interests in the region, and thus the CIA director is meeting stakeholders.
It is worth mentioning that Director Burns on the 23rd of August had held a secret meeting with then Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar as well.
Similarly, the US has remained neutral since its withdrawal, avoiding any support to the recently fallen resistance in Panjsher, which shows the willingness of the US government to change the narrative about the US’s new standing in the region.
Similarly, DG ISI on the 4th of September led a delegation of Pakistani officials to Afghanistan. In response to a question from a foreign journalist, the DG ISI said the purpose of his visit was to seek “peace and stability” in Afghanistan. He added that he was here to meet the Pakistani ambassador to get a first-hand account of the ground situation.
Keeping all this in mind, meeting with Pakistani officials is not unexpected. Pakistan has long been seen as a country as a major stakeholder with respect to the situation in Afghanistan, as a bordering country, and has actively played a role in the peacebuilding process between different parties in Afghanistan.
This role was once again seen actively, as the Government of Pakistan evacuated foreign diplomats, European citizens, and even US army officials from Kabul, providing them a safe passage to their home countries.
Mentioning this, the ISPR statement read, “The visiting dignitary (Director CIA) appreciated Pakistan’s role in Afghan situation including successful evacuation operations, efforts for regional stability and pledged to play their role for further improvement in diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan at all levels.”
Similarly, the new Taliban government sees Pakistan as an important country to establish bilateral relations with, as Pakistan is one of the six countries invited to attend the ceremony of the new government’s announcement.
The #Taliban has invited six countries to attend the ceremony for the announcement of the new government in #Afghanistan:
1) China 🇨🇳
2) Russia 🇷🇺
3) Pakistan 🇵🇰
4) Qatar 🇶🇦
6) Turkey 🇹🇷 pic.twitter.com/RlAC1U2X1Y
— 念真 Nian Zhen (@Xinhua_88) September 7, 2021
The need for legitimacy
Ever since the group’s ascent to power, it is becoming exceedingly clear that international legitimacy is necessary for the country to succeed.
This is important as the country has hit an economic roadblock, as with the international aid from IMF and World Bank paused, the government’s foreign assets in New York rendered inaccessible, the economic situation in the country is not going to get any better without support.
Similarly, the support for the Taliban from the European countries depended upon the new government being “inclusive”, which the group had promised, but according to the recent announcement of the caretaker government on 7th September, it does not seem to be happening anytime soon.
US, Turkey, China, the UN, and other major stakeholders have largely adopted a wait-and-watch approach to the announcement, and no one has yet recognized the government.
This means that the new government will be unable to get its hands on $10 billion in central bank reserves because most of the funds were held in New York, as the US is still unsatisfied and waiting for further development.
As Banks resume their operations, Afghans are quick to convert the fragile local currency into the US dollars, further devaluing the Afghani, which was being kept stable by the central bank by regular USD auctions, taking a toll on the economy and Afghani as a whole.
The group and the world had been looking at Pakistan who was among the first ones to recognize the Taliban government in 1996, however, the government has been cautious this time around.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry had said in a briefing in August that the decision to recognize Taliban will be, “in consultation with regional and international powers, especially China, Turkey and the United States of America.”