Pakistan found itself isolated on the global stage this week after an attempt to generate support for the Taliban – which seized power in Afghanistan last month – and allow the group a seat at Saturday’s meeting of Foreign Ministers from SAARC nations was rejected.
Also rejected was Pakistan’s demand Nepal – the SAARC chair – provide written assurances Ghulam Isaczai, who represents Afghanistan’s ousted government at the United Nations, would not be allowed to attend.
Sources said SAARC members could not reach a consensus on Pakistan’s request or give the Taliban guarantees it could attend the meet scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly.
As a result, the meeting of Foreign Ministers from eight South Asian countries was cancelled. The SAARC nations are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
A senior Indian government functionary told NDTV Pakistan insisted the Taliban attend the meeting, but no other country had agreed to this demand.
The Taliban is not recognised by India as the representative of the Afghan people.
The groups is also not recognised by other countries, with senior members of its new cabinet still blacklisted by the United Nations and on ‘wanted’ lists by American agencies.
Russia and China also do not, as yet, recognise the Taliban.
The new Taliban regime has “no authority”, the Indian government functionary told NDTV and stressed the group could not, therefore, stake claim to speak on global platforms. Pakistan’s “mid-wife” role in support of the Taliban had left it exposed, the functionary declared.
The Taliban has also written to the UN Secretary-General asking for permission to address the 76th General Assembly in New York this week and have nominated Doha-based spokesperson Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan’s UN ambassador.
News agency Reuters reports the move sets up a showdown with Ghulam Isaczai, and it is doubtful permission will be given.
UN acceptance of the Taliban will be an important step in the group’s bid for international recognition, which could help unlock funds needed by the cash strapped Afghan economy.
The last time the Taliban was in power (1996-2001), the ambassador of the toppled Afghan government remained the UN representative after decisions over the Taliban’s claims were deferred.
With input from ANI, Reuters