The senior military delegation of Pakistan, headed by Pakistan’s Intelligence (ISI) chief has landed in Kabul for talks with the Afghan Taliban. ISI Chief Lt Gen Faiz Hamid will hold key meetings on mutual cooperation with his counterpart chief Najibullah.
The visit has sparked great interest across the region and perhaps the world given that Taliban are expected to announce their government any time. Earlier it was believed that an interim government will be announced on Friday but apparently there was a deadlock between various factions of Taliban and internal talks continue.
Indian Reaction to DGI Dash to Kabul
Indian media outlets are framing visit by Pakistan’s DG ISI as a power show and have suddenly rebooted their old smear campaign stating that the Taliban are under Pakistani influence.
The Hindustan Times contextualised this meeting by quoting India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla who said that Pakistan has “supported and nurtured” the Taliban that replaced the elected government. However it is no secret that Indian government itself is desperate to reach out to Taliban – and an early recognition of Taliban led Kabul by New Delhi can not be ruled out.
Though Taliban’s position on Kashmir is fairly principled but it may still disturb those in New Delhi who are doing two things: Condemning Taliban as a threat & attempting quietly to recognise Taliban Govt in a potential smart move! https://t.co/sf8e7KUg5f via @GVS_News
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) September 3, 2021
Top officials from Pakistan have however asserted that they support an inclusive Afghan-led government in their neighbouring country. They have time and again denied these allegations aimed at maligning the efforts of Pakistan.
While most western countries and India evacuated their missions from Kabul, citing security risks, the Pakistani diplomatic mission has sustained and expanded its presence in Afghanistan, offering safe evacuations for stranded foreigners through PIA flights and facilitating humanitarian aid across the country.
The Taliban will soon announce a new government in Afghanistan after more than two weeks of chaos created by sudden fall of Kabul and a badly planned US exit from Hamid Karzai airport. A fierce battle is still raging in and around Panjshir valley with conflicting claims from both sides.
Afghan Taliban have already claimed victory and end of hostilities in Panjshir on Friday evening but Amrullah Saleh and his supporters are claiming that they are still there and fighting. Some media sources in Kabul claim that Amrullah Saleh and Ahmed Masood son of Ahmed Shah Masood, the legendary leader of Panjshir Valley have already left for Tajikistan – however the situation is far from clear.
New Afghan cabinet is said to be announced at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, and the Taliban spokespersons have confirmed on various occasions that their supreme leader, Haibutullah Akhundzada shall be the governing power on top of the council.
ISI Chief Lt Gen Faiz Hamid arrived Kabul this morning leading delegation of senior Pakistani officials. Gen Faiz is highest ranking foreign official to reach Kabul on invitation of Taliban Shura. Issues to discuss immediate future of Pak Taliban security economic trade ties pic.twitter.com/Ku2Jcyl3RK
— Kamran Khan (@AajKamranKhan) September 4, 2021
Pakistan desperately needs stability in Afghanistan
Pakistan is not only Afghanistan’s immediate neighbour but has very deep historic, ethnic, religious and cultural ties with the country – sometimes described as a “Gordian knot”. Since the Soviet invasion of 1979, subsequent cvil war after 1987 and then the US occupation of 2001, no neighbouring country has suffered as much in human and financial losses as Pakistan.
Pakistan is thus urgently working to stabilise the situation. It is working on both ends; it is demanding Taliban to create an inclusive government that will satisfy the world and is stressing international community to remain engaged with Afghanistan to help with normalisation. Foreign countries of Germany, UK and other European countries have already visited Pakistan on the request of Minister of Foreign Affairs. However most western countries have shifted out their diplomatic missions and have no presence on the ground and the New Taliban regime -despite its overtures to win international support – is being seen with deep suspicion by key institutions and public opinion circles across the west.
Yet, Gen. Faiz Hameed’s sudden visit has come off as a surprise to media outlets, focused on Afghanistan. This perhaps demonstrates that Pakistan being the key peace broker in the region, would go to any length to achieve stability. Pakistan however finds it difficult to lend diplomatic recognition to the Taliban government. In 1997, Pakistan joined Saudi Arabia and UAE in recognising the Taliban government of Mullah Omar after it’s taking over of Kabul. It was then expected that the US and allies will also follow in extending recognition but irresponsible actions by the Taliban towards women, minorities made it impossible for any other government to recognise Taliban turning them into international pariahs – much before the terrorist attacks of 9/11 believed to have planned by Al Qaeda from Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s top diplomat to the UN, Munir Akram had recently stated in an interview with APP that with the Taliban in control an inclusive government is expected with all factions receiving their due shares.“I think that if they are responsible, they will see the wisdom of inclusive government, and hopefully, we will have a government which can bring actually peace to the country,” he said.
Pakistani concerns on TTP presence in Afghanistan
Taliban spokesperson, on Friday, assured that there will be no threat from Afghanistan to the neighbouring countries especially Pakistan with whom the country shares its border.
At the online international conference hosted by the Pak-Afghan Youth Forum titled “Rebuilding Afghanistan Together”, Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid said Afghanistan is relying on Pakistan’s help to the Afghan nation and also “in terms of its peace efforts and increasing the bilateral trade and commerce”, according to a statement issued after the event.
Source: 🇵🇰 Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief Lt Gen Faiz Hamid in Kabul, Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/oc5hek61gG
— Shen Shiwei 沈诗伟 (@shen_shiwei) September 4, 2021
However the continuing presence and reportedly free movement of TTP leaders and low ranking militants across the towns of Taliban controlled Afghanistan worries many in Pakistan. Adil Shawzeb, Anchor person of Dawn News, who recently came back from Kabul mentions that TTP are seen helping Afghan Taliban in law and order maintenance and that Taliban leaders describe TTP as Pakistan’s internal problem. These impressions if true must be on DG ISI’s agenda for talks in Kabul. Pakistan considers TTP – responsible for the terrorist attack on school children of APS Peshawar – as its red line.
Pakistan’s top official’s presence in Kabul is thus a strong message of support at a time when western powers have abandoned their posts in Kabul and fled. This meeting may reinforce Pakistan’s position in the international community, as the only country firmly present on the ground trying to find a solution for the region and the world.
“We are working for peace and stability in Afghanistan”, says DG ISI Lt Gen Faiz Hameed upon arrival in Kabul. #Afghanistan
— Anas Mallick (@AnasMallick) September 4, 2021