During his recent visit to Kabul, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi pledged humanitarian aid worth PKR 5 billion to Afghanistan to help it out of its present crisis. Islamabad today also wants the international community to engage with the current Taliban regime in Kabul to reach out to the Afghans . It argues that failure to engage with Afghanistan’s new government would doom its citizens.
Observers say the common Afghans are indeed confronted with an acute economic crisis at present. The international community must devise an appropriate mechanism to deliver them aid. But it must refrain from following the course Islamabad is suggesting.
Islamabad seems to be harping on the present predicament of the Afghans only to get the current Taliban regime in Kabul international legitimacy and use a radically Islamized Afghanistan to do what it has done ever since it came into existence in 1947 — aid Islamist elements against India .
In order to get the Taliban regime international legitimacy, the Pakistan government has recently allowed the Taliban regime to send its diplomats to its embassy in Islamabad and consulates in Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta.
Ironically, the European Union, too, is said to be close to reopening its mission in Kabul. It seems to calculate the mission would help it deliver its emergency humanitarian aid package of over one billion euros to the Afghans .
The EU , India and other democracies must discern Islamabad’s Afghan designs and come together to foil them. The Taliban regime poses a threat to the entire West . The Taliban, the Islamic State and al-Qaeda are all radical jihadist groups with the same ideology. They seek to rid the world of the threat they perceive Western culture poses to Islam.
The EU needs to understand that given the radical Islamist nature of the Taliban regime , any aid is unlikely to reach the people it would be meant for. On the other hand, a reopening of the EU mission in Kabul would mean doing business with the Taliban regime and granting it diplomatic recognition.
There is an argument that the Taliban are not a monolith. There are hardliners and moderates among them. The moderates are open to the prospect of a gradual change . They could be engaged to take Afghanistan forward.
The observers say it would be absolutely naïve to accept any such proposition . The Taliban regime in Kabul remains essentially a radical Islamist entity . It has no space for the rights of Afghan women and minorities. Its supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada’s commandment is clear — uphold sharia law.
New Delhi needs to take all appropriate intelligence, security and diplomatic measures to checkmate the emergence of a Talibanised Afghanistan. In the wake of the Taliban takeover in Kabul , there have been several incidents of violence against Hindus and migrant labour in Kashmir . The scenario might worsen for a secular, pluralist India if Afghanistan in its neighbourhood were to turn into a fully monotheistic , Talibanised state.
( The author is a Delhi-based journalist)