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Pakistan establishes new rules of engagement with Kabul

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ISLAMABAD:
Pakistan has set forth new conditions for future engagements between the international community and the Afghan Taliban, marking a notable shift from its previous stance. This change is expected to pose challenges to the international recognition of the Kabul regime.

In a significant policy announcement, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative at the UN stated on Thursday that any engagement with the Afghan interim government should be contingent on its actions against terrorist organizations, including the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August 2021, Pakistan had been advocating for the international community to stay engaged with the Afghan Taliban, acknowledging them as a reality despite global reservations. However, tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan over TTP attacks prompted Islamabad to quietly abandon its support for the Afghan Taliban a few months ago.

Ambassador Munir Akram confirmed this policy shift during a UN Security Council debate on the current situation in Afghanistan. He warned that the continued presence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan posed a significant threat not only to the region but potentially to the entire world.

Akram emphasized that any engagement with the Afghan interim government should be based on its response to core concerns of the international community, including respect for human rights, political inclusivity, and action against terrorist organizations, including Daesh and the TTP.

While acknowledging some success in countering Daesh, Akram pointed out that several terrorist groups were still operating in Afghanistan, seemingly under the protection of the interim government. He highlighted the increased threat from TTP and its affiliates, responsible for cross-border attacks causing significant civilian and military losses in Pakistan.

Akram urged the United Nations to conduct a thorough investigation into how advanced military equipment ended up in the hands of the TTP, emphasizing the need to identify ways to retrieve these weapons. He called on the Security Council to strengthen the work of the 1988 Committee to ensure action by the Afghan interim government against all terrorist groups and empower the monitoring team to assess progress in counter-terrorism efforts.

In defense of Pakistan’s policy regarding undocumented Afghans, Akram noted the country’s significant hosting of registered Afghan refugees and highlighted the economic and security challenges posed by the presence of undocumented Afghans. He clarified that the plan to repatriate illegal foreigners was driven by legitimate security, economic, and social concerns and was being implemented in a humane manner.

Ambassador Akram concluded by urging third countries to expedite the relocation process for Afghan refugees awaiting resettlement.

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