US special envoy launches regional tour on Afghanistan

US Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Thomas West, has embarked on a regional tour spanning four countries, including Pakistan, to address critical issues related to Afghanistan.

West, who will be visiting Pakistan, UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia from December 5-15, expressed his anticipation of engaging with key partners on shared security interests, refugee protection and resettlement, humanitarian needs, human rights, and economic matters, as reported by X.

This journey marks Mr. West’s first official trip following the presentation of UN Special Coordinator Feridun Sinirlioglu’s assessment report to the UN Security Council.

Some sources suggest that discussions regarding Sinirlioglu’s assessment with various countries are integral to the objectives of this diplomatic mission.

International relations expert Barna Salehi noted, “Security discussions concerning Afghanistan, human rights issues, the historical relationship between Pakistan and the United States, and the challenges in restoring these relations may arise during these talks.”

The United States special representative for Afghanistan is expected to attend the Doha Forum meeting on December 10-11 in Qatar, though it remains unclear whether Mr. West will engage in discussions with the Taliban in Doha. He has previously met with Amir Khan Muttaqi, the foreign minister of the Taliban, during his visits to Doha, including a meeting in July.

Political expert Wais Naseri expressed skepticism, stating, “It has no effect on changing the situation in Afghanistan and the living conditions of the people, women, and men. Only Thomas West seeks to establish connections with the Taliban and maintain communication channels between America and the Taliban.”

West’s visit to Pakistan comes at a time when tensions between the Taliban and Islamabad have escalated due to recent deadly attacks, and the forced deportation of Afghan immigrants is an ongoing concern.

Women’s rights activists are urging the United States to prioritize human rights and women’s rights in its talks with other countries. Sanam Kabiri, a women’s rights activist, urged, “We ask the countries that respect human rights, the international community, and the United States to put more pressure on the Taliban to release women’s rights activists who are in prison or in critical condition on their way to the hospital.”

On Tuesday, an American delegation led by the US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Immigration held discussions with Pakistan’s special representative for Afghanistan in Islamabad. The talks focused on the situation of Afghan immigrants and their resettlement.