Moscow-format declaration states ‘regretfully’ no progress by Taliban to form inclusive govt

Moscow-format delegates issued a joint declaration stating there had “regretfully” been no progress on the Taliban’s part in forming a “truly inclusive government in Afghanistan” which can reflect the interests of all “ethno-political” groups in the country.

The declaration was issued by Russia’s foreign ministry after the conclusion of the 5th Moscow format meeting in Kazan, Russia, which brought together envoys from more than 10 countries. A Taliban delegation, led by their acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, also attended the meeting.

“Despite the appointment of some individual representatives of various Afghan ethnicities to the Kabul administration, the parties observed no political pluralism in it,” the declaration noted.

Participants attending the meeting, once again raised their concerns over the difficult security situation in Afghanistan due to the increase in terrorist activities, which they primarily attributed to Daesh.

The participants “called on the current Afghan authorities to take effective measures to dismantle, eliminate and prevent placement of all sorts of terrorist groups based in Afghanistan and to prevent the country from being the terrorism and instability hotspot and spreading to the regional states.”

The Taliban have repeatedly urged regional and world countries to focus on engagement and recognition of their government at such meetings. But the formation of an inclusive government, counter-terrorism efforts, human and women’s rights as well as counter-narcotics have been the focus of high-level meetings on Afghanistan after the Taliban’s return to power.

Former deputy of the upper house of Afghanistan’s parliament, Mohammad Alam Izdyar, said that even the countries supporting the Taliban are concerned about the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.

“Even the Taliban’s supporter countries are raising their voices today regarding Afghanistan and the threat which is posed to the region and other countries. So, there is no place for recognition,” he said.

Speaking at the Moscow-format, the Taliban’s foreign minister said that they expect regional countries to not tell them how to govern.

Over the past two-years, the Taliban have repeatedly been criticized for not forming an inclusive government.

Barna Salehi, a political analyst, believes that the Moscow-format was a warning to the Taliban to focus on a regional solution rather than seeking improvement of relations with the US.

“What was achieved here (Moscow-format) is attributed to the Russians and Iranians. They (Russia, Iran) reflect that they have close relations with the Taliban, while at the same time warn the Taliban of not engaging in close relations with the US,” he said.

The participants at the Moscow-format meanwhile underscored the need to respect basic human rights of the people in Afghanistan.

“The participants spoke out for respect of fundamental rights and freedoms in Afghanistan, including equal rights to work, education and justice, without distinction as to gender, ethnicity or religion,” the declaration read.

They also stressed their concern about imposed restrictions on women’s employment and girls’ education.

Since the Taliban swept power, they have banned girls from going to schools above grade 6; they have closed universities to women, and imposed dozens of other restrictions on women and girls. These have been done by decree, issued by the Taliban reclusive leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, who is known for his suppressive policies towards women.

Masouda Kohistani, a women’s rights activist, criticized organizers of the Moscow-format for not having invited women from Afghanistan to attend.

“These meetings without the presence of women are unacceptable. It shows their obvious support of a terrorist group and hostility with the people of Afghanistan,” she said.

Russia, Iran, India, China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were the main participants at the Moscow-format, while the Taliban and envoys of several other countries attended as guests. 

However, Tajikistan was excluded from the declaration.