BRICS summit for preventing attempts to use Afghanistan as ‘safe haven’

Narendra Modi chairs virtual summit of five-nation grouping; Kabul remains tense after Taliban said all protests will have to be approved by Interior Ministry

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 9

Under pressure from the world community to deliver on its promises, the Taliban relented by permitting evacuation from Kabul airport even as the BRICS virtual summit hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called for preventing attempts by terrorist organisations to use its territory as sanctuary to carry out attacks against other countries.

A joint statement endorsed by Russian President Vlaidmir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping as also Presidents of South Africa and Brazil, expressed concern over the drug trade and emphasised the need to uphold human rights, including those of women, children and minorities.

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The BRICS joint statement released did not mention Taliban but strongly condemned terrorism “in all its forms and manifestations” and spoke of combating cross-border movement of terrorists, and terrorism financing networks and safe havens.

But the Taliban was on a collision course with the US after the Pentagon objected to the presence of men in the Interim Cabinet who are wanted under its “Rewards for Justice” program. However, China welcomed the interim Cabinet saying that it was “a necessary step to restore order and rebuild the country” but Germany, France and the US felt it fell short of expectations by not being inclusive enough.

Kabul remained tense after the Taliban said all protests will have to be approved by the Interior Ministry and Internet services slowed down in west Kabul where impromptu demonstrations have been held by women. More evidence also emerged of severe injuries caused to journalists after they were picked up by the Taliban for covering the protests and whipped with steel cables.

Politicians in Kabul also spoke against the Taliban forming an Interim Cabinet comprising only its Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai suggested that all Afghans should be represented in the government. His sentiments were echoed by Hazara and Tajik leaders whose apprehensions have increased after a Tajik commander from Panjshir Haji Bahlol was reportedly killed and women were roughly dealt with in Nili, Bamyan and Mazar-i-Sharif Provinces where their ethnic groups form the majority.

The western world’s expectations came through strongly at a conference of 20 Foreign Ministers where External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also spoke on holding the Taliban to its commitment of not permitting safe havens.

As the west hesitated in providing humanitarian aid, Pakistan is sending three plane loads of humanitarian assistance. On the previous two days, cargo planes from UAE and Bahrain had landed with humanitarian assistance. The UN has warned that the situation may reach catastrophic proportions, exacerbated by an ongoing drought in the wider region.

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