Review Nepal News

Why Pakistan Is Upset With The Taliban?
  Kathmandu, Nepal      November 20 2022

By Saleem Samad

Maryam Marof Arwin, founder of Afghanistan Women and Children Strengthen Welfare Organisation in a Twitter post lament: Afghanistan has been made a cage for Afghan women and girls.

This tweet tells a million words, which depicts the state of Afghanistan after a 16-month rule by the barbarian Taliban, who has pushed the nation into the 7th-century medieval era.

Last week, Pakistan's envoy in his deliberation made a damning assessment of Taliban's rule at the so-called "Moscow Format of Consultations" by key regional countries mostly neighbours held on 16 November hosted by Russia.

In an unusual move, the envoy from Islamabad tells despite assurances from Kabul, the rights of women and girls have regressed.

The assessment shared by Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq, Pakistan's special envoy on Afghanistan, said the interim government has done little to form an inclusive government, protect the rights of women and eradicate dreaded terrorist networks.

The fourth meeting of the Moscow Format since 2017 was held with participation from Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Iran, Pakistan, China, Turkmenistan, India, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan at the level of Special Representatives or Envoys on Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the portal Khaama Press News Agency of Afghanistan blasted the Moscow Format and argued that the meeting was 'incomplete' without Taliban representatives.

It is understood that Kremlin is frustrated and decided not to invite Taliban representative to Moscow for the consultation.

Russia's displeasure was caused by negative progress made toward an inclusive Afghan government reflecting the interests of all the ethnic and political forces of the country, as promised by the Taliban's end.

The joint statement released at the end of the consultation of the Moscow Format on Afghanistan called the Taliban a "new reality," and stressed the formation of an "inclusive government", respecting the interests of all major "ethnopolitical" forces.

Ambassador Sadiq in his address took an unusually harsh attitude against the Taliban regime.

In the last meeting in Moscow last year laid down broad principles to govern practical engagement with the Interim Afghan government based on i) promoting inclusivity; ii) respecting fundamental human rights including rights of women; iii) countering terrorism; and iv) sustained support to the Afghan people, including the provision of humanitarian and economic support.

The Moscow Format hoped that as friends and neighbours of Afghanistan, stood up for the Afghans. The consultation advances desired goals by bringing together the regional countries in a process of meaningful dialogue and engagement on Afghanistan.

Sadiq said the progress barometer signalled some of the worst fears, including a rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, the mass exodus of refugees and a prolonged period of instability and violence did not materialise, the interim Afghan government had also not made the kind of progress that the international community consistently urged the interim Afghan government to promote greater political inclusivity.

Incidentally, Rawalpindi funded, trained and abetted the Taliban fighters. Earlier, to oust the Soviet invader of Afghanistan in the 70s channelled American weapons, funds and sanctuaries to the Mujahideen including Al Qaeda brainchild Osama Bin Laden.

The proliferation of military-grade weapons and violent terrorism has spilled over to Pakistan. Rawalpindi is feeling the pinch in their shoes of the threats of violence and civil war in the regions along the borders with Afghanistan.

The Taliban fighters returned to power in August 2021 and deliberately ignored all the commitments made separately in Doha as well as in Moscow.

Despite assurance from the interim Kabul government, the rights of women and girls also appeared to have regressed, not progressed, according to the Pakistani envoy. He added that the footprint of terrorist organisations in Afghanistan had yet to be fully eradicated.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) claims that opium cultivation in Afghanistan has increased by 32% over the previous year.

Opium cultivation has caused a larger drug problem in Afghanistan. It has invited a nexus of the international network of the opium trade and money laundering.

Not to anybody's surprise, the terror network protects the drug lords to collect funding to augment the outfit's clandestine operations from the opium trade.

Well, the Taliban regime for their survival in the face of global economic sanctions benefitted from the opium trade.

With the lack of progress, Pakistan observed that the critical support needed by Afghanistan to deal with the humanitarian and economic crises and other challenges has faltered.

Apparently, Afghanistan remains cut off from the international banking system and faces serious liquidity challenges. Billions of Afghan assets are frozen, thus deprived of being gainfully used for the benefit of the people of Afghanistan.

The opium trade has threatened the neighbouring countries Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan vulnerable to combating and controlling the overland drug trafficking worth $1.8 – $2.7 billion in 2021.

On the other hand, the Moscow Format of consultation appealed for help to millions of Afghans, who were in desperate need of urgent humanitarian support, including food, medicine and essential life supplies.

To conclude the stakeholder of peacebuilding in volatile Afghanistan was a collective failure of the international community to stand by the people of Afghanistan – the international commitments to provide humanitarian support to Afghanistan remain largely unfulfilled.

First published in The News Times, November 19, 2022

Saleem Samad, is an independent journalist, media rights defender, recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He could be reached at <>; Twitter @saleemsamad