• Press Release

Islamabad: Engaging with the Taliban was the first step to ensure moderate behaviour on their part, said Ambassador Abrar Hussain. He was addressing a roundtable discussion on the future of the Taliban, organized by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS).

He said that the second coming of the Taliban was astonishing for many people. He said that the Intra Afghan dialogue would have brought a broad-based government in Afghanistan. Imprudent decisions by Ghani, his reluctance to form an inclusive government, his refusal to recognize Pakistan’s role in negotiations and his desire to test the Taliban on the battlefield resulted in his removal.  The Taliban government, he said, was either ignorant of the problems of the Afghan army or overlooked them deliberately as the attrition rate reached 30 per cent from 10 and many soldiers left the army.  Every warlord would ask for salary for his troops, which previously came from the West. The Taliban’s presence brought peace to the country, as it was the first time since 1979 that the whole country was under one government. They also politically engaged with regional countries despite no one recognizing them, he said.

The world had a trust deficit with the Taliban, as they believed they would give refuge to militants. There were internal differences between the Taliban too, as there were moderators under Mullah Baradar and hardliners like Sirajuddin Haqqani, he said. There were also problems with Taliban relations with the neighbours, which were equally concerning. 

The cessation of foreign aid resulted in the loss of 45 percent of the GDP and a loss of overseas assets. Furthermore, sanctions by the US and the UN on the Taliban top officials had deeply impacted the Afghan economy. Ambassador Abrar said that either the Taliban could continue, or some strong group could overthrow them or they could form a more inclusive government. The best strategy, he said, was to interact with the Taliban in order to ensure that they remain moderate.

Ambassador Nadeem Riyaz, President IRS said that there was no sizeable opposition to the Taliban rule. The Taliban were now not the same as the previous one as they had learned and were now more prudent in their approach, however, their vision could not be the same as that of the West.

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