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Editorial: Direct contacts

After emergence of Daesh, known as the Islamic State in the global north, Afghanistan’s neighbors particularly Russia, China and Iran are exploring ways to stop the notorious terrorist organization from making inroads into their respective territories. Unlike the Taliban, Daesh has global designs. The terror outfit has also earned fame for destruction of historical places and killing all those who are outside of its narrowly defined fold. Therefore, the terror group is killing children, women, unarmed civilians and beheading journalists. The IS terrorists spare lives of only those who pledge allegiance, rest of others are enemies for them. Daesh is spreading like cancer in the region.

Countries that are afraid of the growing power of the Islamic State are trying to establish contacts with the Taliban. In international relations the enemy of your enemy is your friend. That is why many countries that have seen the Taliban as threat and radical force are now seeing the militant group as a strategic ally against Daesh. Russian officials including the special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan on multiple occasions acknowledged that Moscow is in contact with the Taliban. After coming under severe criticism the Russian authorities assured that they would not abandon the Afghan government. Moscow has supplied 10,000 AK-47s to Afghan security forces to prove its commitment to the people and government of Afghanistan in the war against terrorism and extremism.

Iran, China and Pakistan have already established contacts with the Taliban. According to officials of the three countries the contacts would help the Afghan-owned peace process and restore stability to the war-hit country. Some of the neighboring countries such as Iran and China have kept the meetings with the Taliban representatives secret. But there are numerous reports regarding the Taliban delegation visits to Beijing, Islamabad and Tehran. Looking at the growing insecurity in Afghanistan, it becomes clear that the visits had not helped the Afghan reconciliation process if the objective was restoration of peace and stability.

The Meshrano Jirga or Upper House of the Afghan parliament has expressed concerns over the direct contacts between Russia, Pakistan and the Taliban. The senate chairman Fazal Hadi Muslimyar criticized Moscow for building relations with the Taliban. He and his colleagues in the Meshrano Jirga urged Russia and other neighboring countries to stop meddling in internal affairs of Afghanistan. The senators are right. No country has the right to interfere in affairs of another country.

If the contacts are aimed at helping the Afghan peace process, Kabul should welcome the efforts. However, the Afghan government should not be kept in dark by these countries. But, if the relations between these countries and the Taliban are aimed at targeting Daesh alone while bypassing the Afghan government, it would result in serious repercussions. It will strengthen the Taliban who have waged war against Afghan people and government. Afghans would not welcome such contacts and efforts. It will turn the nation against the neighboring countries. They would be in their right to ask the government to revise relations with all those states that have established direct contacts with the Afghan militants.

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