Taliban not in control

The blast at Kandahar shows that neighbours are right to worry

The suicide blast in a Kandahar Shia mosque which killed at least 41 congregants at the Friday prayers has not had anyone claim responsibility, as the Islamic State-Khorasan did for a similar blast the week before in Kunduz, at which 55 died. However, the blast made a number of things clear. First, the Taliban have not got to grips with governing. Though they are known to have sectarian proclivities, either they have failed to understand that the very essence of governance is to ensure the protection of all, no matter their sectarian background, or they have failed to establish the sort of control needed to prevent such outrages. That the blast occurred in Kandahar is significant, for that is supposed to be the Taliban heartland. The previous blast took place in Kunduz, which has a significant Tajik population, and borders Tajikistan. Kubduz has been pro-Taliban in the past, but the blast in Kandahar is more worrisome from the Taliban point of view. Afghanistan is already on the verge of economic collapse, but the Taliban never claimed to be good economic managers. On the other hand, their old reputation as being good at establishing law and order is now in danger.

Their neighbours are naturally concerned. Russia is hosting a conference which is being attended by Pakistan, the USA and China, as well as India and Iran. Afghanistan is also going to attend, which would mark the first time for more than two decades that the Taliban will be attending an international conference as the Afghan government. Though they have not been recognized as such, their presence at the conference shows that they are on their way. It is also noteworthy that Pakistan is choosing not to make an issue of India’s attendance.

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This alone may indicate how seriously Pakistan is taking developments in Afghanistan. Apart from the need to establish peace in the country, the Taliban also have to show due regard for human rights, and establish an inclusive government. If not, what with the impending economic crisis, a flood of refugees might land on the borders of neighboring countries, including Pakistan.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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