02/15/2022, 14.28
AFGHANISTAN - QATAR
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The Taliban seek legitimacy. Gulf monarchies more cautious

Qatar continues to act as the main mediator between the Afghan Emirate and the rest of the world. However, no country wants to grant international recognition. After the meeting, the communiqués of the two sides diverge. India and Pakistan want to avoid a widening of the humanitarian crisis; an agreement has been reached on sending supplies.

Kabul (AsiaNews) - Six months have passed since the fall of Kabul and the tragic US withdrawal that left Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban. While the humanitarian situation continues to worsen (at least eight malnourished children arrive at the hospital in the capital every day, according to UNICEF), the Taliban are still seeking legitimacy on the international scene. Yesterday, a delegation led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi flew to Doha, Qatar, to meet with officials and representatives of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The two communiqués issued after the meeting have a different tone: 'Participants expressed respect for Afghanistan's national sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and firm stance of non-interference in internal affairs,' reads the Taliban statement. In a more detailed document, the GCC recognises Afghanistan's independence and territorial integrity, but also stresses "the importance of national reconciliation and a consensual political solution that meets the aspirations of the Afghan people, takes into account the interests of all components of society and respects fundamental freedoms and rights, including the right of women to work and education". Diplomatic sentences of circumstance, but which did not appear in the Taliban's note.

Today and in the coming days, the self-proclaimed officials of the Taliban government will meet with representatives of the European Union and of the diplomatic missions that operate in Qatar on behalf of Afghanistan. 

The role of Doha as mediator between the Koranic students and the rest of the world is thus confirmed. Observers say it is likely that the Taliban will ask Doha to intervene with the United States to get back the money from the previous Afghan government, which is still blocked in US banks. In recent days, Washington has announced that it will only hand over half of the 7 billion dollars frozen after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Before 15 August 2021, almost 80% of the country's budget depended on international contributions. 

The basic problem has been the same for six months: how to help the Afghan population without directly financing the Taliban government, whose members are on the UN's list of the world's most wanted terrorists.

The other countries in the region, in a similar way to the Gulf monarchies, do not seem to want to recognise the Taliban government, but want to prevent the humanitarian catastrophe from spilling over onto their borders. According to a recent report by Save the Children, 18% of Afghan families are now forced to send their children to work. Nearly 23 million people are acutely food insecure and another 9 million are in a state of emergency, say the World Food Program (WFP) data; this means that almost 32 million people, out of a population of 41.7 suffer from hunger. In the last month, at least 95 children have died of measles and malnutrition in the northwestern province of Ghor alone. 

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a recent interview with CNN, reiterated that 'the only option the world has right now is to work with the Taliban to improve the situation'. 

After a months-long standoff, Islamabad and Delhi have reached an agreement to send food to the Afghan population: within the next week 50,000 tons of wheat will be shipped on Afghan trucks across the Indo-Pakistani Wagah-Attari border and redistributed by the WFP, with which India has signed a memorandum of understanding. Initially, India and Pakistan wanted to ship the aid in their own vehicles.

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