Jaishankar to push for conciliation in Afghanistan

EAMs of entire Afghan neighbourhood to meet in Central Asia

Jaishankar to push for conciliation in Afghanistan

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

Sandeep Dikshit
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 12

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will be consulting almost all important players in the near neighbourhood, including China, Russia and Iran, this week amid signs that none of the three powers favour the Taliban’s winner-take-all approach for Kabul.

Jaishankar will be closeted with Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Ministers on July 13 and 14 in Tajikistan, and may attend another back-to-back meet on connectivity in the neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will also be in the region, first visiting Turkmenistan, which also shares a border with Afghanistan, before joining Jaishankar in Tajikistan and, possibly, Uzbekistan. Other foreign ministers will be Shah Mehmood Qureshi (Pakistan), Haneef Atmar (Afghanistan), Javad Zarif (Iran), Sergei Lavrov (Russia) and their counterparts from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

SCO council meeting

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will be closeted with Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) ministers on July 13 and 14 in Tajikistan, and may attend another back-to-back meet on connectivity in the neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Though China had maintained ties with the Taliban during the 90s, sources point to its Foreign Ministry’s statement on the eve of Wang’s departure that speaks of the “fight against three evil forces, namely, terrorist, separatist and extremist forces”.

The worry among Chinese, Russian and Iranian is that a complete takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban could mean Afghanistan becoming an “emirate”, ruled by a single person holding both temporal and political powers. The Taliban is hedging on this issue and recently said the declaration of an “emirate” will be discussed during the peace talks.

Afghanistan was declared an “emirate” during the previous Taliban rule (1996-2001), and amir al-mu’minin (commander of the faithful) Mullah Omar reportedly donned the cloak of Prophet Muhammad, symbolising himself as the successor. These pretensions inhibited him from handing over Osama bin Laden and allowed Kashmiri militants to get trained in Khost, said the sources.

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