WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s foreign minister wants the world to engage the Taliban, warning of dangerous consequences if Afghanistan’s rulers are again isolated.
In an interview during his visit to Washington, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari cautioned against creating “parallel governance” after the United States, distrustful of the Taliban, put Afghanistan’s frozen assets in a professional fund in Switzerland.
“We’ve learned from the past that when we wash our hands and turn our backs, we end up creating unintended consequences and more problems for ourselves,” Bilawal said Tuesday. “I believe that our concerns of an economic collapse, of an exodus of refugees, of a threat of new recruits for organisations such as ISIS-K and others, outweigh concerns that there may be about their financial institutions.”
The Taliban returned to power last year after the United States ended a two-decade war. In contrast to some previous Pakistani officials, the foreign minister offered no warm words for the Taliban.
But he said the militants needed “political space” on concerns such as women’s rights, which have been sharply curtailed. “Throughout history, theocratic, autocratic regimes haven’t exactly tended to expand rights at times of economic strife,” he said. “In fact, they tend to hold on to cultural issues and other issues to engage their population.”
The United States came away unpersuaded from a series of talks with the Taliban and in August said the militants had violated promises by welcoming al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was found at a house in Kabul and killed in a US strike.
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