Image reset, winning world recognition a major challenges for Taliban

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 04:02 PM, 17 Aug, 2021
Image reset, winning world recognition a major challenges for Taliban
Taliban fighters on a pick-up truck move around a market area, flocked with local Afghan people at the Kote Sangi area of Kabul.–AFP

Formation of a broad-based government representing all ethnic groups and winning international recognition will be the major challenges facing the Taliban leadership. 

To be able to deal with them those at the helm will have to be patient, tolerant and visionary. 

This is the second time that they are getting an opportunity to rule the war-ravaged country. During their first tenure (1996-2001) they were treated like a pariah by the world community because of their views on matters people gave tremendous importance.  

In the light of their previous experience the Taliban will have to review their thinking on issues that could provide their opponents an opportunity to subject them to criticism. 

They will have to give a serious thought to the fact why the Christians and Jews could deal with other Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and Gulf states but had serious reservations about the Taliban.  

Even other Islamic countries kept themselves at a distance from the then Afghan government, which reflected lack of unity among the Ummah.  

If they understood this important point now they would be able to win world support without much difficulty. 

Last time only three countries: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE, had recognised the Taliban government, led by Mullah Omar.  

This time despite being immediate neighbor Pakistan has decided to adopt a "wait-and-see" policy before making any move to recognise the new set-up in Kabul. 

The decision was taken at a high-powered National Security Committee (NSC) meeting on Monday, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by senior cabinet members, three services chief, DG ISI and other concerned officials. 

The civil and military leaderships discussed the Pakistan strategy in view of the changing situation. 

According to reports, this time Pakistan would not jump the gun so soon as far as recognition of the new government in Kabul is concerned. 

It is said that Pakistan would work with other regional players including China, Russia and Iran for the future course of action. 

Islamabad would persist with its policy of seeking an inclusive and a broad-based government in Afghanistan despite the military victory of the Taliban

A statement issued after the meeting said: "It is now time for the international community to work together to ensure an inclusive political settlement for long-term peace, security and development of Afghanistan/the region."  

Needless to recall that Afghanistan has been destroyed during the foreign occupation and the new government would have to work very hard to rebuild it. 

This would not be possible unless it gets international cooperation.   

At this juncture opponents would do their best to keep the country backward to convey a message to the world that their role was very important. 

As a strategy, the new Afghan government should take the Islamic countries along. For this purpose the new government should requisition an immediate meeting of the OIC.  

Once the OIC takes a joint decision about relations with the Taliban-led setup, the working of the new rulers would become much easier. But if it failed to address the reservations of the OIC countries, non-Muslim countries would get a justification to not join hands with them. 

As for the US thinking and future policy, the leadership of the country believes they were right in the past and are taking right steps today. 

For this purpose the speech delivered by US President Joe Biden a few days ago is instructive. He said: “We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001, and make sure Al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again. We did that. We severely degraded Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We never gave up the hunt for Osama bin Laden and we got him. 

“That was a decade ago. Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building. It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland. 

Continuing the US President said: I’ve argued for many years that our mission should be narrowly focused on counterterrorism, not counterinsurgency or nation-building. That’s why I opposed the surge when it was proposed in 2009 when I was vice president. And that’s why as president I’m adamant we focus on the threats we face today, in 2021, not yesterday’s threats. 

The US spent more than a trillion dollars during the past 20 years in Afghanistan to serve its interests. 

Had the amount been spent on development, the fate of the impoverished country would have changed. But this cannot be expected from the invading country. 

In the prevailing situation the Taliban –led government should do its best to take more and more countries along so that lingering problems of the past decades could be addressed.

Ashraf Mumtaz

The writer is the Deputy Editor of 24 Digital.