Three weeks after claiming the control of Afghanistan, the Taleban have announced a provisional government on September 7, while the local media published the extensive list of all the ad interim ministers. As the Taleban spokesman stressed the provisional character of the government, he admitted many of the public charges are yet to be filled. Despite previous commentaries referred to a possible theocratic power structure in Afghanistan, no announcements have been made with regard to the new form of government or constitutional order in the country.
The relatively quick announcement concerning the formation of an ad-interim government might well be – at least partly – attributed to Afghanistan’s external stakeholders, provided the neighbouring states’ interest for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. Certainly, a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan with a sustainable domestic order would deter new migration episodes, potential conflict spill-over and terrorist threats.
Also, as an observer of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – which includes China, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States as well as Pakistan and India – Afghanistan could play a major role in mitigating terrorism not only in South Asia, but similarly in Central and East Asia. While some of the ministers have taken part in the Doha negotiations on the intra-Afghan peace process, some have been reported as connected to certain terrorist networks blacklisted since 2012.
The announcement of a provisional government has also generated significant reactions, hinting at the complex assessments being currently conducted on the road ahead for Afghanistan.
The European Union voiced its disapproval with regard to the provisional Taleban government through the spokesperson of the European External Action Service: “It does not look like the inclusive and representative formation in terms of the rich ethnic and religious diversity of Afghanistan we hoped to see and that the Taliban were promising over the past weeks”, while stressing that “inclusivity and representation is expected in the composition of a future transitional government, and as result of negotiations”. The European Commission Vice-President Marcos Sefcovic expressed that the EU “is ready to continue to offer humanitarian assistance“, yet such an assistance might depend on how the Taleban uphold basic freedoms and human rights: “We are looking very, very carefully at how the new government is behaving before engaging".
The United States’ involvement as a now external stakeholder in Afghanistan seems to also be concerted with the EU views. In a public statement, the State Department noted, in a similar key with the EU declarations, that “the announced list of names consists exclusively of individuals who are members of the Taliban or their close associates and no women”, hinting perhaps at the alleged terrorist association of several Afghan cabinet figures - “We also are concerned by the affiliations and track records of some of the individuals”. Clearly, concerns and hopes remain on behalf of the US with regard to an inclusive government which respects basic human rights: “We understand that the Taliban has presented this as a caretaker Cabinet. However, we will judge the Taliban by its actions, not words. We have made clear our expectation that the Afghan people deserve an inclusive government”.
Moreover, on September 8, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to Germany to meet the Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, reaffirming “the strong alliance between the United States and Germany” and conveying “the United States’ gratitude to the German government for being an invaluable partner in Afghanistan for the past 20 years”. Indeed, the US air base in Ramstein, Germany, holds a capital role as a reception hub for numerous Afghan displaced persons.
The United Nations’ humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, mentioned that a top Taliban leader pledged to accept humanitarian workers to operate within Afghanistan. At the moment, however, no formal agreements have been achieved in this regard. The UN official displayed similar concerns with the EU and US positions, noting that most challenges reside in “the process of the next many months, when the people of Afghanistan will be learning to live with their new rulers, and so will we.”
Mary Robinson, the current chair of “The Elders”, a group of former international leaders working to promote UN and influence leaders on significant global issues, such as human rights, manifested concerns with regard to the respect of fundamental human rights in Afghanistan, while calling on China and Russia especially to convey to the Taleban that human rights are “non-negotiable and must be respected”.
In fact, China showcased what could be considered a sympathetic attitude toward the recent developments in Afghanistan. The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted on September 8 that “China attaches a great importance to the arrangements made by the Afghan Taleban to announce the establishment of an interim government containing important figures”. The Chinese official saluted the new developments as a “necessary step for the restoration of domestic order and post-war reconstruction” and reaffirmed China’s readiness to maintain communications with the new executive and the Afghan leaders. Beijing’s position may come as a result of the July 28 meeting between the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and a Taleban delegation; unlike most countries present in Afghanistan, China has continued its diplomatic mission’s activity in Kabul, despite the recent developments.
In a similar key, on September 10, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, urged the international community to display a "new positive approach" toward neighbouring Afghanistan, stressing that isolating the country will have "serious consequences" for the Afghan people. On the same day, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson manifested his hope that the new ad-interim government led by the Taleban would bring “peace, security and stability” to the country.
A notable initiative has come from Afghanistan’s neighbours, i.e. Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, which, under the presidency of China’s Foreign Minister, have participated in a forum of neighbouring states on September 8. On this occasion, China announced a consistent financial aid to the country, stressing on rebuilding the war-thorn country’s economy and society. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister suggested considering inviting the representatives of Afghanistan at the future group meetings, in order to increase the efficiency of the forum and the shared objective of peace in Afghanistan.
The situation in Afghanistan has also been discussed during the September 9 BRICS New Delhi Summit, which brings together the main emerging world economies, i.e. Brasil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. At the end of the Summit, the leaders issued a joint statement inviting all domestic parties involved to abstain from any form of violence and respect the human rights, particularly of ethnic minorities, in order to stabilize the on-going humanitarian crisis, stressing the need “to contribute to fostering an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue so as to ensure stability, civil peace, law and order in the country“. A great importance has been attached to the potential terrorist threat which may result from the current dynamics in the country, particularly on “preventing attempts by terrorist organisations to use Afghan territory as terrorist sanctuary and to carry out attacks against other countries, as well as drug trade within Afghanistan.”
The cooperation in the fight against terrorism also represented one of the main topics recently discussed during the bilateral meeting between the Indian national security councillor Ajit Doval and its Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, on September 8. During the meeting, both officials stressed on the importance of setting “parameters of the future state structure of Afghanistan by the Afghans themselves, as well as the need to prevent the escalation of violence in the country, as well as social and ethnic inequalities”. In this regard, the two dignitaries analyzed the “perspectives of Russian-Indian cooperation to create conditions that favor the launch of a peace process based on inter-Afghan dialogue ".
Indeed, the question of recognising the provisional Taleban government is, at the time being, analysed on multiple layers by all actors involved. While, in some cases, the perspectives of government recognition may depend on cultural factors (such as linguistic or ethnic affinities), economic interests (such as economic involvement and loans ior reconstruction) or security concerns (as the terrorist threat may augment), the main concern of the international community currently resides in how the future government of Afghanistan will relate to fundamental human rights. After all, it is the shared respect for universal values that lies at the core of the community of nations. And forging the road ahead for Afghanistan can only be done based on the same values that reside at the core of the international community. It is, undoubtedly, to the best interest of the Afghan people.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position or view of IRSEA.