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Executive Summary: The Fourth Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan’s Neighboring States called on the Taliban to form an inclusive government and welcomed Tajikistan’s initiative for the creation of a security belt as the participants raised their concerns over the presence of terrorist syndicates in Afghanistan.

The two biggest claims of the Taliban have been bringing unprecedented security to the country and establishing an inclusive government since August 15th, 2021, when they swept back to power through a military campaign. From intra-gatherings at the national level to meeting with the representatives of different countries and international organizations, they have repeatedly underscored that Afghanistan is no longer a threat to regional and international security. However, not only regional countries but also the international community have always raised their concerns over the active presence of terrorist syndicates functioning in Afghanistan, and one prime example was the joint declaration issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China at the end of the fourth meeting of foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighboring states.

Uzbekistan hosted the Fourth Meeting of Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan’s Neighboring States in Samarqand on 13th and 14th of April, 2023. The participants were Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, China, and Russia and deeply discussed several issues of common interest such as counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, women rights, and the formation of an inclusive government that encompasses all constituents of Afghan society. Apparently, among the agenda of the meeting, the most important issues that had a greater degree of importance were counter-terrorism and formation of an inclusive government.

International community as well as regional countries have always demanded the Taliban to form an inclusive government representing all constituent parts of Afghan society. In response to such a demand, the Taliban claimed that their government is inclusive. For instance, Acting Foreign Minister of the Taliban Amir Khan Muttaqi in a program organized by Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad in 2021 attending as a guest speaker said, “If by inclusivity they mean the participation of diverse ethnic communities in Afghanistan and people from different regions of the country, then our current cabinet and government meet that criteria”. Moreover, Taliban’s unwillingness to establish an inclusive government is better highlighted in a video footage from the Samarqand Meeting that went viral on social media showing that upon greeting Amir Khan Mutaqqi. The Foreign Minister of Islamic Republic of Iran stated that the world has been waiting for the formation of an inclusive government for twenty-one months. The outbreak of the respective video was a matter of troll among the users of social media, especially Twitter.

Apart from that, Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, also made his remarks regarding the inclusive government that the Taliban’s cabinet represents only Taliban not all segments of Afghan society and those from other ethnic groups in the cabinet are also Taliban.

In addition to the formation of an inclusive government, the participants also shared their concerns about the terrorist organizations that are capable of posing serious threats to regional and international security. The joint declaration points to groups such as ISIL, Al-Qaeda, Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Balochistan Liberation Army, Jundallah, Jaish al-Adl, Jamaat Ansarullah, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and others. Since the Taliban takeover of the country, the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) has emerged as a daunting rival. ISKP carried out deadliest attacks targeting Shia community, Embassies of Russia, Pakistan, Chinese diplomatic residence, and the Taliban’s senior figure. In recent months, relationship between Pakistan and Taliban deteriorated following a new wave of terrorist attacks that hit Pakistan, as a direct result of what tens to hundreds of people died or wounded, and Pakistan claimed that the architects are insurgents, who have safe haven in Afghanistan. In the joint declaration, the participants welcomed Tajikistan’s recommendation for the creation of a “security belt” around Afghanistan and Uzbekistan’s recommendation to create an International Negotiation Group under the auspices of the UN.

During the meeting, participants was emphasizing the positive contribution of existing regional forums, including the Tashkent International Conference “Afghanistan: Security and Economic Development” and the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan. Moreover, in the joint declaration, the participants emphasized that assistance to Kabul in restoring the national economy and reaffirmed the launch of three working group meetings namely political and diplomatic, economic and humanitarian, security and stability at an early date.

The Fifth Meeting of Foreign Ministers will take place in Ashgabat in 2024, or at an earlier date, if needed.

Formation of an inclusive government is important as it represents all constituents of Afghan society and their interests. In other words, it leads to political stability, development, prosperity, security, and active interaction of the international community with the country. Such a meeting could be effective if it initiates a roadmap for intra-Afghan dialogues and encourages all parties, particularly Taliban to resume talks.


Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of MEPEI. Any content provided by our authors is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.

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About the author:

Siyawash Obaidy

Siyawash Obaidy pursues his MA in International Public Affairs at the University of Bucharest, Faculty of Political Science. He has a BA in Public Policy and Administration from Kabul University. His areas of interest are International Development, Public Policy Analysis, and Politics.

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