The foreign minister of the Afghan Taliban government, which is not recognized by any country, will hold talks on Saturday with his Pakistani and Chinese counterparts during a rare visit abroad.
Amir Khan Mottaki is banned under international sanctions from leaving Afghanistan, but was granted an exemption to take the trip to Islamabad just days after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the Taliban government’s restrictions on women.
China and Pakistan are Afghanistan’s two most important neighbors, with Beijing eyeing the vast untapped mineral resources that lie across their small shared border, and Islamabad warning of security threats along their much-extended shared border.
The Afghan delegation, which also includes the Minister of Commerce and Industry, will be the highest level since the Taliban seized power in August 2021 after the withdrawal of foreign forces led by the United States from the country and the collapse of the Western-backed government.
“The great significance of this summit is that at this moment, a regional economic future cannot be achieved without a stable Afghanistan,” said Maria Sultan, director general of the Institute for Strategic Stability in South Asia.
“It is also important to establish an official relationship, and this is only possible if there is work to rebuild the diplomatic track,” she told AFP.
“Millions of women and girls are being silenced and hidden from view,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told a meeting of envoys from the United States, Russia, China and 20 other countries and organizations earlier this week, noting that the ban was a violation of Afghanistan’s “obligations under international law.” “.
Taliban government officials were not invited, an omission that according to one representative would be “counterproductive”.
Also this week, a meeting was held in India of the foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, in which Kabul has an observer status, which dealt with the situation in Afghanistan without the presence of any representatives of the country.
On Friday, the United Nations reaffirmed its “commitment to stay” in Afghanistan, at the end of a review it conducted of its operations in the country against the backdrop of the Taliban’s decision to ban Afghan women from working with UN agencies.
In a statement issued in Kabul and published on its website, the mission renewed its condemnation of the Taliban’s decision, “which is illegal under international law, including the United Nations Charter and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.”
And she reaffirmed that the procedure impedes her work, “including our ability to reach all people in need,” stressing that “we cannot abandon (the mission) despite the challenges.”
The Taliban government has previously denounced criticism of the restrictions imposed on women, which it described as an “internal social issue”.
The worst humanitarian crisis in the world
Afghanistan is facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with its 38 million people going hungry and three million children at risk of malnutrition.
Although the Taliban pledged to show greater flexibility after assuming power, it soon returned to its strict interpretation of Sharia law that characterized its rule between 1996 and 2001.
The Taliban gradually increased restrictions on freedoms, especially against women, who were excluded from most public jobs or given low wages to urge them to stay at home.
Women are no longer allowed to travel without a male guardian and must wear the burqa.
In November, the movement banned women from parks, gardens, gyms, and public swimming pools.
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, on his first visit to Pakistan since his appointment in December, is also holding bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
China has been Pakistan’s main defense ally since the Cold War and also its most important economic partner through loans and infrastructure projects worth billions of dollars.