Gaining Legitimacy; Taliban Strategy in OIC Meeting

2021/12/25 | interview, political, top news

Strategic Council Online - Interview: A university professor, saying that the Taliban has not yet complied with any of the demands made by the international community, termed Pakistan’s support for the Taliban to attend the special session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation foreign ministers as symbolic. He added: Under the current situation, Afghanistan needs to form an inclusive government with the participation of all groups, ethnicities and religions that are based on popular opinion.

Speaking in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Ruhollah Eslami, referred to the Taliban spokesman’s request to Islamic countries to recognize the group’s rule at the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Islamabad, noting: Under the current situation, the Taliban has made several attempts for being recognized, but so far no country has recognized them.

Saying that despite the announcement that the Taliban rule is temporary and a decision will be made for the formation of an inclusive government, there has been no change in the Taliban’s thinking and actions, he added: They have not fulfilled any of the demands and by closing most government offices they have pursued an ethnocentric policy. They have seized the land and the universities are still closed. Girls are not allowed to go to school from the sixth grade onwards, and all female employees in the offices stay at home and salaries of government employees have not been paid yet.

Explaining the inability of the Taliban to run the country in various fields due to being illiterate and inexperience, the university professor said: They have repeatedly stated that the Taliban are not the former Taliban and have changed in comparison to the past; but no change has been made in their behavior. Now they need to be recognized officially, and this recognition by neighboring countries is very important to them.

Recalling that neighboring countries continue to send goods and services to Afghanistan as in the past, Eslami referred to the remarks made by the Pakistani foreign minister, who saw the OIC meeting in Islamabad as an opportunity for the Taliban to address international concerns and said: Pakistan has done a lot to help identify the Taliban politically; of course, Turkey, Qatar, the UAE and some other countries have also taken steps in this regard, but unlike Pakistan, they have also stressed the need for Taliban to change their behavior.

Referring to the presence of 57 countries in the OIC summit in Islamabad, the analyst of Afghanistan affairs said the Taliban’s strategy in the OIC summit was to try to gain the support of the countries in order to gain legitimacy and continued: Pakistan has formally invited the United States, Britain, Russia, the European Union, the World Bank, and human rights organizations to attend the meeting, and by inviting the Taliban has considered them as the actor or a legitimate government.

Eslami added: Although some of those actors may not attend the meeting, the Taliban have stated that they want to address the three issues of the economy, the banking system and normalization of relations with countries.

Symbolic action of Pakistan

The university professor mentioned the Taliban’s attention to the fight against terrorism as another demand of the countries in the region from the Taliban and said: The current level of demands from the Taliban is far from the existing realities and it seems unlikely that given this situation, countries would move towards recognizing the Taliban; but in any case, Pakistan wants to use any space in favor of the Taliban to make this recognition happen sooner.

He also described Pakistan’s move to help identify the Taliban as a symbolic step and said: Such moves are entirely in Pakistan’s interests and for creating a backyard in a large part of Afghanistan so that it can easily continue its influence in that country.

Afghanistan’s key challenges for neighbors

Emphasizing that Afghanistan has posed major challenges to neighboring countries, Eslami addressed the issues created by the flood of migration, drug trafficking and the growth of terrorism, saying: If a fragile government will be present in Afghanistan, neighboring countries will suffer. However, due to differences of opinion between neighboring countries and other trans-regional countries, we are witnessing lack of formation of an understanding with regard to Afghanistan, and contrary to what happened at the Bonn Conference, we will not see a strong government.

The expert on Afghanistan affairs added: Measures should be taken to hold elections in Afghanistan. If the country still does not have the conditions to hold the elections, the Taliban should proceed to call for the return of specialized forces staying at home so that those who can maintain administrative order and organize government institutions return, some of whom are women.

He stressed: Although given the Taliban’s biased views, it seems unlikely that there would be a clear vision for this to happen in Afghanistan, the OIC meeting can also help align Islamic countries and Afghanistan’s neighbors in reforming the Taliban approach and can be able to get a commitment and guarantee from the Taliban to improve the situation in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s neighbors have no choice but to talk to the Taliban, so they need to engage in diplomatic dialogue and, through more active policy, condition recognition to the return of the people to their work, employing women’s capacity and their education and employment, as well as reforming the constitution, by taking advantage of the opinions of the people and elites.

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