By Joydeep Bose
Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is expected to arrive in Kabul on Sunday to meet with Taliban leaders, days after the Haqqani network took over the security of the Afghan capital. According to the Tolo News agency, Qureshi is scheduled to be in Kabul. on August 22, Sunday. This will be the first visit by any foreign leader to the insurgents in the war-torn country after their lightning-fast offensive this month won them control of the state apparatus. As per a political analyst cited by the agency, Qureshi’s visit is largely on account of the fact that Pakistan wants to play its part in forming the new government in Afghanistan.
The Taliban are trying to hammer out a new government in Afghanistan after its forces swept across the country as US-led forces pulled out after two decades, with the Western-backed government and military collapsing. The Reuters news agency reported on Saturday that the group’s co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, arrived in the Afghan capital of Kabul earlier in the day for talks with other leaders on forming the government.
Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, on Saturday held telephonic conversations with his counterparts in Russia, Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands, and Belgium. In conversation with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, Qureshi emphasised that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was of critical importance for Pakistan and the region.
“Pakistan had consistently supported the Afghan peace process,” he said, according to the Pakistan foreign office, adding that an “inclusive political settlement” was the best way forward for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
A Taliban official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters earlier this week that the new government structure in Afghanistan will not be a democracy by Western definitions, but “will protect everyone’s rights.”
The Taliban, who follow an ultra-hardline version of Sunni Islam, have sought to present a more moderate face since returning to power in Afghanistan, saying they want peace and will respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law. Afghan refugees, however, insist that the “moderate” face of the Taliban is only a temporary show.
When in power from 1996-2001, also guided by Islamic law, the Taliban stopped women from working or going out without wearing an all-enveloping burqa or a male relative and did not let girls from going to school. ( HT )
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