After months of urging the international community to recognize the Taliban regime to avert the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan has made it clear that Pakistan will not unilaterally recognize the interim setup in that country. Such a stance has also been voiced by the government earlier despite the fact that it has remained engaged with Kabul. Nonetheless, with the US and its allies still waiting on the Taliban regime to fulfil its promises of setting up an inclusive government and ensuring human rights, particularly those of women, in the country before recognizing them, there had been an increasing need for Islamabad to voice that the country cannot afford to take a decision in isolation. “To be isolated by becoming the only state [to recognise the Taliban regime] would be the last thing we would want,” said the premier.
Pakistan only recently witnessed a revival of the IMF $6 billion lending programme and is already under the FATF grey-list. Over the past 3.5 years under PM Imran, it has also witnessed its worse economic crises. Under such circumstances, taking a unilateral decision could gravely hurt Pakistan’s economic situation. Moreover, the fact remains that the Afghan regime has failed to fulfil its promises made after taking over Kabul in August last year, including taking action against terror groups operating from Afghanistan. Since the Taliban takeover, Pakistan has seen a worrying rise in terror attacks in its border regions with Afghanistan – Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Many of these have been claimed by the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which openly operates in the neighbouring country. While the premier said that it was in their “interest to stop international terrorism”, the Taliban has done little to nothing to act on this interest. The international community, particularly the US, is closely watching the developments unfolding in Afghanistan and reports of human rights violations or delay in ensuring girls’ right to education are hurting the Afghan cause. Having said that, the recent decision taken by President Joe Biden’s administration to distribute half of Afghan assets among the 9/11 survivors is also violation of human rights. The Afghans shouldn’t be punished for a crime they did not commit. It is pertinent to note that none of the 19 attackers of the 9/11 terror incident were Afghans. Nor should the people in Afghanistan be punished for the Taliban’s ideologies. Millions in that country have suffered already. While Pakistan’s stance is clear not just on the Taliban’s regime recognition but also focusing on partnering “with the US in peace, not in war”, the West and the interim government in Afghanistan should come on the table to voice their respective concerns. Millions of lives depend on it.