Kazakhstan to remove Taliban from terrorist group list, official says

Kazakhstan plans to remove the Taliban from its list of terrorist organizations, Aibek Smadiyarov, a spokesman for the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, said in a televised interview on Friday.

According to RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, the decision was made by Kazakhstan’s Security Council. Smadiyarov noted that Kazakhstan would continue to adhere to United Nations decisions and resolutions regarding Afghanistan.

The Taliban was officially designated as a terrorist group by Kazakhstan in March 2005.

Since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan following the U.S.-led military withdrawal in mid-2021, Kazakhstan has sent several official delegations to Kabul.

Serik Zhumangarin, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Trade and Integration, stated, “Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan are engaging diplomatically with Afghanistan. This summer, the ‘Kazakh-Afghan forum’ in Astana led to a trade agreement with the Taliban-led Afghan government. We are interested in maintaining our trade, transport, logistics, and energy relations with Afghanistan.”

The decision to engage with the Taliban has drawn criticism from many experts, human rights defenders, and activists in Kazakhstan, citing the group’s international terrorist designation and poor human rights record, particularly regarding women and children.

In September, approximately 300 Afghan businessmen and Taliban representatives attended a business forum in Astana.