Pakistan FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi warns of potential Afghan anarchy and civil war resulting from West’s irresponsible exit strategy from Afghanistan. While speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, the foreign minister fears that Afghanistan could descend once again into a state of civil war and anarchy of the West does not “engage” with the Taliban.
Afghan anarchy, an outcome of US mishandled exit strategy
Shah Mahmood Qureshi warned of potential Afghan “anarchy” and a resurgence of terrorism while he criticized the West’s exit strategy. He added that the West ceased to listen to Pakistan’s heightened concerns about bringing an end to the war in Afghanistan and as a result the withdrawal was not “responsible or orderly”.
He stated that Pakistan in the past had faced the brunt of Afghan anarchy and Afghan power vacuum and fears that if West fails to engage with the Taliban, instability and further chaos would result in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region.
"The region could not afford continued instability in Afghanistan"
Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, meets delegation of Afghan political leaders who arrived on Sunday in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.
🔴 LIVE updates: https://t.co/054jvysRdG pic.twitter.com/Ar0VT6sB0F
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) August 16, 2021
Read more: Will US exit guarantee stability for war-torn Afghanistan?
Taliban’s positivity may obscure Afghan anarchy, envisions FM
But he also said the initial statements from the extreme Islamist group have been “positive” and “encouraging” which might eliminate the fears of Afghan anarchy. He hoped the Taliban would work towards creating an “inclusive government” in the multi-ethnic Afghan state ensuring that the interests of all groups are intact.
Read more: Taliban will reveal consensual Afghan government in days
Engagement with Taliban is a panacea for Afghan anarchy
He said: “One option is engagement as opposed to isolation, you know we’ve withdrawn, let’s wash our hands, we’ve done our bit, we leave.
“That’s a dangerous option. That’s an option of abandonment of Afghan people.
“That’s the mistake that was committed in the 90s. I would urge the international community not to repeat the same mistake again.”
After 20 years of bitter war and then a humiliating defeat, the West is now in a dilemma about what to do next.
But the policy choices are few and none are very desirable: cooperating with a sworn enemy against a potential bigger threat such as ISIS-K, or isolating the Taliban as international pariahs for their brutality and treatment of women.
The foreign minister warns the “consequences of abandonment” are dangerous.
“It could lead to a civil war and things could become chaotic, there could be anarchy, and that will give space to the organizations we all dread: the international terrorist organization that we do not want their footprint to grow in Afghanistan”, he warns.
Read more: Will US exit lead to another civil war in Afghanistan?
Taliban should be given a chance, says FM Qureshi
But there are huge questions about whether the Taliban can be trusted. The minister said the West should “test” the ultra-conservative hardliners to make sure they were true to their word.
He added that it was in the group’s interest to act responsibly and hoped they had changed.
“They should have learned from their mistakes,” he said. “And I think the attitude and the approach they are taking is reflective of a different approach.”
“What I’m saying is test them before trusting them. They’re big statements but let’s see if they live up to them and if they do, then build on it because the other option is far worse.
“If they’re sensible, they should in my view respect international opinion and international norms. Why? They need assistance, they will be in charge, if they will be in charge they will need humanitarian assistance, they will need financial assistance, otherwise you will see an economic collapse.”
Read more: Constitutional challenges for Afghanistan after US exit
Afghan anarchy; a bitter memory of Afghan history
Many Afghans are frightened about how their new rulers will behave. The country has bitter memories and is fearful of a repeat of what happened when the extremists last ran the country between 1996 and 2001.
As the last American flight left Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the victory was a “lesson for other invaders”, but emphasized the Taliban wanted “good diplomatic relations” with the US and the rest of the world.
Looming humanitarian crisis amid Afghan anarchy
He added that international cooperation by all means is imperative at this time of an hour for Afghanistan. There is another major issue, a massive, worsening humanitarian crisis looming in the war-ravaged country.
The World Food Programme says one in three Afghans are already going hungry as the nation faces its worst drought in 30 years.
Added to that, Afghanistan is facing bankruptcy as it is heavily reliant on foreign aid, but giving money to a Taliban government would not only be an endorsement, it would also help bankroll their regime.
Afghan anarchy brings mounting security concerns for Pakistan
The foreign minister points that Afghan anarchy is the last thing Pakistan wants. Thus, the Pakistan’s government is clear on this issue, though – there is no room for the “abandonment” and the world needs to come together for the Afghan people.
The stakes are extremely high for Islamabad. As Pakistan shares border with Afghanistan, FM Qureshi highlights that it is already hosting nearly four million refugees and can’t afford another major crisis or security concern erupting from Afghan anarchy to reach its borders.