The presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan at Dushanbe and his interaction with various SCO leaders has had a salutary impact on him, at least for the time being. After listening to a lot of plain talk at the Summit, he observed that the Taliban must fulfill promises made in Afghanistan.
There was a consensus at Dushanbe to engage with the Taliban but no willingness to consider the issue of recognition till the Taliban inducted an inclusive government, allowed the girls education, jobs for women, fought the terrorists and developed friendly ties with their neighbours. The speakers wanted the USA to release the frozen Afghan assets. They also told the USA and Nato allies that it was their responsibility to help avert a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan after ending their 20-year presence in the country. It was realized that failure to provide necessary support to Afghanistan could allow terrorism and drugs to flourish while pushing the country into a full-blown humanitarian crisis which had the potential for tens of thousands of refugees to pour over the borders. Chinese President Xi called on “certain countries” to assume their due responsibilities for Afghanistan’s future development as they had been “instigators” of the situation. There was none who wanted to incentivize the Taliban.
Four countries comprising Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan were tasked to exert positive influence on the Afghan administration to promote a smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan is thus required to perform the onerous task of persuading the Taliban to address the concerns of neighouring countries. Pakistan’s stature would rise if it fulfills the task satisfactorily. It would suffer the most from the fall-out of the Afghan debacle if the Talban remained adamant.
The Taliban meanwhile continue to send negative signals to the world. On Saturday they ordered girls to be excluded from returning to secondary schools while allowing boys to attend lectures delivered by male teachers. Neighbouring countries are yet to receive any satisfactory answer regarding what the Taliban intend to do with terrorist groups which continue to operate from Afghanistan. The ball is now in the Taliban’s court. The world wants straightforward answers to simple questions.