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Moscow Format calls for minority rights, ‘political reconciliation’ in Afghanistan

November 17, 2022 12:56 pm | Updated November 18, 2022 12:20 am IST - NEW DELHI

The Moscow Format of Consultations on Afghanistan called for an to all terror infrastructure in Afghanistan even as it opposed military facilites of ‘third countries’.

Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov (centre), and other members of delegations pose for a photo prior to their talks in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. Russia hosts talks on Afghanistan involving the representatives of the Taliban, other political forces in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. | Photo Credit: AP

 The Moscow Format of Consultations on Afghanistan held in the Russian capital on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, called for respect for all Afghan ethnic groups and minorities in a bid to create national reconciliation in the war torn country. A Joint Statement issued after the meeting stressed upon ending all terrorist infrastructure in Afghanistan and said placing of military infrastructure facilities of “third countries” in Afghanistan “and in adjacent states is unacceptable”. Taliban did not participate in the talks but, welcomed the discussion and declared that it will not allow Afghan territory to be used against “stability of the region”. 

“The strengthening of Afghan authorities’ efforts to ensure the basic rights and freedoms of the population were noted as important. The sides also expressed their support for the fundamental rights of all ethnic groups, including minorities, women and children, providing equal access to justice and education respectively,” stated the Joint Statement. The Russian hosts, presented a White Book on the civilian losses in Afghanistan due to the actions of the NATO forces during the past two decades and condemned the September 5 terror attack against the Russian embassy in Kabul.

The representatives at the talks also called for “complete unfreezing” of Afghanistan’s assets by Washington. The United States has frozen at least $9.5 billion of the Afghan Central Bank in the aftermath of Taliban takeover of 16 August 2021. The Taliban regime has called for unfreezing of the fund but it has remained unrecognised by major countries so far creating problems in its international engagements. 

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Participating countries in the talks that included Russia, India, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan called upon the Taliban setup to “fulfil its commitments to eradicate terrorism and drug trafficking” that continue to emanate from the Afghan territory. The grouping also discussed methods to stop poppy cultivation with innovative methods through “crop substitution programs”. 

Inclusive govt.

The representatives and special envoys underscored the importance of forming a “truly inclusive government in Afghanistan, reflecting the interests of all major ethno-political groups of the country.” The Moscow format commended the regional neighbours of Afghanistan who have hosted Afghan refugees and called for “the importance of a safe, dignified, time-bound and well-resourced repatriation of refugees back to Afghanistan”.

“We want to underscore that the Islamic Emirate...as an independent government will not allow any third country to place military facilities in Afghanistan. Similarly, we strongly urge other countries to not put their land and airspace at the disposal of other countries against Afghanistan,” said the “Ministry of Foreign Affairs” of the Taliban administration which calls itself the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”. 

The call for national reconciliation and recognising rights of ethnic and religious minorities and women reflect the content of “intra-Afghan” dialogue that was also part of the 2020 Doha agreement between the United States and the Taliban. The intra-Afghan dialogue however was left incomplete when the Taliban launched a military campaign immediately after the Doha Agreement that ultimately led to the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani government as the U.S. forces withdrew. 

The return of the Taliban has been followed by a series of attacks on Shia Hazaras and growing atrocities against women and political opponents. Taliban officially maintains that these incidents are unrelated to its ideology but, it has not cracked down on perpetrators of ethnic and gender violence till now.

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