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Taliban defer swearing-in, India describes Afghan situation as ‘fragile’


Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10

The Taliban deferred the swearing-in ceremony of its Cabinet, with Russia, one of the select invitees, said it would not participate in any capacity.

While the Taliban showed deferment to global sensitivities as its plans to swear in a new government coincided with the twentieth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, India said the situation in Afghanistan was “very fragile” and it was important for the Taliban to not allow the use of the Afghan soil for terrorism, including from UN-designated terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador TS Tirumurti said at the UN Security Council (UNSC) discussion on Afghanistan late on Thursday that the UNSC Resolution on Afghanistan took into account some of the global community’s collective concerns, especially on not allowing the use of the Afghan soil for terrorism.

The Taliban is in talks with a number of politicians, since it believes “in the inclusiveness of the government” and a formal government may be set up this month or next month, said the Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen.

Russia, one of the six countries invited for the swearing-in, may have cast a dampener. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said it was important for Moscow to understand the further steps by the current Afghan leadership since it did not know how the situation will unfold with regard to terrorist and drug trafficking threats.

US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, meanwhile, spoke on Thursday for 90 minutes on the need to ensure that competition between the two countries did not veer into conflict at a time when Afghanistan was emerging as another issue of discord.

The discussion was initiated by Biden after talks at the levels of NSAs and Foreign and Defence Ministers were not fruitful. The White House said the “broad, strategic discussion” focused on economic issues, climate change and Covid as the reconnection comes with a humanitarian crisis facing Afghanistan and both countries differing on how aid should be delivered.

Peskov’s sentiments coincided with observations by Tirumurti who said, “As witnessed from the deplorable terrorist attack at Kabul Airport last month, terrorism continues to pose a serious threat to Afghanistan. It is, therefore, important that commitments made in this regard are respected and adhered to.”

Russia, India and the Western world have also expressed doubts over a government overwhelmingly dominated by Pashtuns with no woman or Shia and just a solitary Uzbek and Tajik in the higher echelons.

Despite the uncertainty over the inauguration ceremony, new Cabinet members took charge. They included Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and his uncle Khalil Haqqani, carrying a total bounty of $15 million under the US rewards for Justice programme. But the internal security situation in Afghanistan remained tenuous and local reports said Rohullah Saleh, brother of Panjshir Resistance leader Amrullah Saleh, was killed by the Taliban near Panjshir.

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