Russia China Pakistan Push Taliban Toward Inclusivity

ISLAMABAD —Envoys of Pakistan, Russia, and China pushed for an inclusive government in their meeting with the Taliban acting prime minister in Kabul on Tuesday.

“Special Envoys on Afg of Pakistan Amb Sadiq, Russia Zamir Kabulov and China Yue Xiayong visited Kabul & called on Afghan Acting Prime Minister M. Hasan AKhund & senior leaders to discuss peace, stability & inclusive governance,” tweeted Pakistan’s ambassador to Kabul, Mansoor Ahmed Khan.

Inclusivity in the new Taliban government is one of the key demands of all of Afghanistan’s neighbors as well as the rest of the international community.

After talks last week on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, foreign ministers of Russia, China, Pakistan, and Iran emphasized the “need to conclude national reconciliation in Afghanistan, resulting in an inclusive government that takes into account the interests of all ethno-political forces of the country.”

Despite their promises on inclusivity and upholding women’s rights, the Taliban Cabinet is full of loyalists with few minorities and no women.

In an interview with BBC, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said this could lead to problems for the Taliban going forward.

“If they do not include all the factions, sooner or later they will have a civil war,” he said. “That would mean an unstable, chaotic, Afghanistan and an ideal place for terrorists. That is a worry,” he said.

Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid gives a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 21, 2021.Defending the Taliban Cabinet, spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid has said in previous press briefings that it is an interim set up that can be changed later. Other Taliban leaders have indicated Taliban reluctance for the idea.

“We do not give the right to anyone to call for an inclusive government,” Taliban leader Mohammad Mobeen said Sunday on Afghanistan’s Ariana TV, adding that asking for inclusivity was tantamount to asking the Taliban to include spies of neighboring countries in their government.

Tajikistan, one of Afghanistan’s central Asian neighbors, has also been one of its strongest critics. Tajiks make up more than 20 percent of Afghanistan’s population including the only group that continues to resist Taliban rule in Afghanistan, the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA) based out of Panjshir.

The Taliban claim they have crushed the resistance in Panjshir but the group claims it is hiding in the mountains and trying to reorganize itself in preparation for a long guerrilla war.

Tweeting photographs of Tuesday’s meeting with Pakistani, Russian, and Chinese envoys, Taliban official Ahmadullah Muttaqi said the Taliban acting ministers of foreign affairs and finance were also present.

During their Kabul visit, the three foreign envoys also held talks with former President Hamid Karzai and the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah.

Pakistan’s ambassador said the meeting was part of efforts to bring “lasting peace & stability in Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, the group, which is still not formally recognized as a government by any country, has nominated its Doha-based spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, as its new ambassador to the United Nations and requested that he be allowed to address world leaders during the ongoing General Assembly session in New York. That request must go to a U.N. credentials committee which is not expected to meet before the end of the current session.

Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi made the request in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday.

The last time the Taliban held power, from 1996 to 2001, the U.N. allowed the representative of the government that the Taliban deposed to hold the seat.