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Monday, 10 January 2022 13:58

Lack of recognition haunts Taliban

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EVENTS are still unfolding but expectations are already dampened by the Taliban's performance in government after four months in power. Up to late December last year, only Malaysia has officially recognised it.

This is perhaps not highly significant given the fact that Malaysia has no diplomatic mission in Kabul and deals with Afghanistan through its embassy in Qatar.

Pakistan is generally seen to have actively supported the Taliban takeover of power in August last year but it has yet to officially recognise it.

The United States has not recognised the Taliban and according to its Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, it is not likely to do so unless the Taliban changes its stance on inclusivity and human rights, especially of women's rights to work and education.

Due to legitimacy issues, Washington is refusing to release US$10 billion of Afghanistan's reserves in the US despite public outcry in Afghanistan that those funds are sorely needed.

 
This was also followed in recent days by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's statement that in practice Afghanistan's official recognition is taking place. But, official recognition has not been forthcoming even from the Russians.

Other countries tend to follow the US and have refused recognition for similar reasons, saying that the Taliban should act on its promises first.

The Taliban considers the prevailing non-recognition as less than acceptable and unfair.

The Taliban maintains — and confirmed in a Jan 4 interview with First Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar — that it fulfils all the requirements of recognition, take credit that security prevails under it, and that its policies are people-friendly and responsive to actual developments.

Earlier comments by some of the Taliban spokesmen claimed that the Taliban is not the same group as the one of 20 years ago (when it was in power from 1996 to 2001) and has changed in many ways.

Yet, it has not budged on its negative stance on women's rights despite the frequent comments by international commentators that the Taliban should change this.

Public expectations that the Taliban will be a people's government are also dampened due to a series of restrictions it is imposing on public activities. Media representatives are complaining of many restrictions.

An earlier announcement by the Taliban Ministry for the Promotion of Good and Prevention of Evil said the media should expose people to that which is good and beneficial and avoid coverage of futile activities.

There is talk that the Taliban is clamping down on music. People are expected to wear beards and the traditional shalwar-kameez outfit. Internally displaced and unemployed people are growing in numbers and further swelling the existing problems of poverty and deprivation.

The fears of drastic food shortages and increasing economic problems add to the gloomy outlook. About 90 per cent of Afghans currently live below the poverty line.

Banks were closed for weeks before it reopened but are still far from returning to their normal pace of activities. Government employees and workers are complaining of not receiving their salaries for months amid widespread unemployment.

There are fears of an impending humanitarian disaster due to worsening food shortages and rising prices. Recent announcements that the import trade volumes are declining is indication of an economic slowdown.

This is despite an earlier announcement by Pakistan that it is allowing India's export of food and medicine to Afghanistan though its territory.

Time is not on the Taliban's side. Problems are piling up and the people's view of it is also turning negative.

It bought time earlier by saying publicly that it needed to consult internally among themselves and formulate new policies, that it was new in office and had inherited a corrupt regime and so forth.

Instead, the Taliban has gradually come up with more restrictions and issued few reassuring statements to respond to public concerns.

What policies the leadership was consulting about and formulating should perhaps be discussed in the open and deliberated for better results.

People expect more effective measures to curb food supply shortages, declining market situations and financial activities.

The value of the Afghan currency, Afghani, versus the US dollar is in a free fall. It was 80 Afghani some months ago but it is now 104. Trading volumes in the Kabul Market and other major cities have also declined.

All this give fodder to the rumour that the Taliban is likely to collapse due to lack of funds, ineffective governance and lack of international support.


Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.

Published in: The New Straits Times, Sunday 09 January 2022

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2022/01/761426/lack-recognition-haunts-taliban

Mohammad Hashim Kamali

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