Kazakhstan faces mixed reactions over removing Taliban from banned groups list

Kazakhstan’s decision to remove the Taliban from its list of banned groups has elicited varied responses. The Taliban welcomed the move, considering it beneficial for both nations.

Zia Ahmad Takal, a Taliban spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, expressed gratitude for Kazakhstan’s decision, aligning with the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan’s ruling. “Afghanistan is committed to positive relations with Kazakhstan,” Takal stated.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid emphasized a desire for good relations with regional countries, assuring that Afghanistan poses no threat.

However, the Freedom Front, an anti-Taliban military group, criticized the decision and urged Astana to reconsider.

Women’s rights activists in Kazakhstan also opposed the decision, arguing that until the Taliban respects human rights, especially women’s rights, there should be no engagement with them.

“There are ongoing issues in Afghanistan regarding human rights and women’s rights that the Taliban disregards,” said Nilab Mobarez, a women’s rights activist. She suggested countries maintain only short-term interactions with the Taliban, conditional on respect for these norms.

Analysts said that Kazakhstan, as a country that has ties with the U.S. and Russia, can develop some relations with the Taliban.

“With the help of cooperation and coordination with Moscow and Washington, Kazakhstan as a country that not only has diplomatic exchanges with the Taliban today at the level of the embassy and has good economic and political relations, can become the first country to recognize the Taliban for a pilot phase,” Naseri, a political expert, said.

Omid Maisam, an international relations researcher, remarked, “By removing the Taliban from the terrorist group list, Kazakhstan has opened more avenues for economic and political interaction.”

Kazakhstan has maintained favorable relations with the Taliban in recent years, including accepting Taliban diplomats.

The Supreme Court of Kazakhstan’s decision came as Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced plans to reopen its embassy in Kabul in 2024.