ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s civil and military leadership on Monday decided to adopt a “wait-and-see” policy before making any move to recognise the new set-up in Kabul likely to be dominated by the Afghan Taliban.
The decision was taken at a high-powered National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by senior cabinet members, three services chief, DG ISI and other concerned officials.
The meeting was convened a day after the Afghan Taliban took control of Kabul in a lightning speed that stunned many countries’ capitals including Islamabad.
Against the backdrop, the civil and military leadership discussed the Pakistan strategy in view of the changing situation.
Official sources said Pakistan would not jump the gun so soon as far as recognition of the new government in Kabul is concerned.
Pakistan would follow the situation closely and adopt a policy of “wait and see” before deciding the tricky question of recognising the Taliban rule. The sources said Pakistan would work with other regional players including China, Russia and Iran for the future course of action.
Islamabad, as per sources, would persist with its policy of seeking an inclusive and a broad-based government in Afghanistan despite the military victory of the Taliban.
It was because of this reason that Pakistan was hosting an Afghan delegation representing different ethnicities even when the Afghan Taliban fighters were entering the Presidential Palace in Kabul.
According to an official handout issued by the PM Office, the NSC was briefed on the latest developments in Afghanistan and their possible impact on Pakistan and the region. The overall security situation in the region was also discussed.
The NSC noted that Pakistan was a victim of the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan and therefore desired peace and stability in the neighborhood. It was emphasised that the world must recognise the sacrifices made by Pakistan over four decades.
Participants reiterated that Pakistan remains committed to an inclusive political settlement as the way forward representing all Afghan ethnic groups. It was reaffirmed that Pakistan would continue to work with the international community and all Afghan stakeholders to facilitate an inclusive political settlement in the country. It was stressed that the principle of non-interference in Afghanistan must be adhered to.
The NSC noted positively that major violence had been averted thus far and called on all parties in Afghanistan to respect the rule of law, protect fundamental human rights of all Afghans, and ensure that the Afghan soil is not used by any terrorist organisation/group against any country.
Prime Minister Imran Khan directed that all possible facilities be made available to repatriate Pakistanis, diplomats, journalists and staff of international organisations seeking to leave Afghanistan. The prime minister lauded the ongoing efforts of the Pakistan embassy in Kabul and the state machinery in this regard.
The NSC reiterated Pakistan’s stance that the conflict in Afghanistan never had a military solution. The ideal time to end the conflict through negotiations might have been when the US/NATO troops were at maximum military strength in Afghanistan. Continuation of foreign military presence for a longer duration now would not have yielded a different outcome. Therefore, endorsement by the Biden administration of the previous US administration’s decision of troop withdrawal is indeed a logical conclusion to this conflict.
“It is now time for the international community to work together to ensure an inclusive political settlement for long-term peace, security and development of Afghanistan/the region,” according to the official statement.