In 2001 the insurgent group Taliban was driven out of power in Afghanistan and went into hiding in other parts of the country. Besides losing power and control the Taliban group also had travel restrictions placed on them by the United Nationals Security Council. But according to reports online the Taliban leaders have been travelling across several countries without any difficulty despite the travel ban not been lifted.
Fast forward to today the same leaders who have travel restrictions on their heads were to travel to Islamabad in Pakistan and attend a crucial meeting. The meeting was to be held on Sunday in the capital with US diplomats and Imran Khan Pakistan Prime Minister. News of the meeting dubbed peace talks didn’t sit well with Afghan officials leading to them writing a letter to the United Nations Peace Council. The latter might have led to the insurgent leaders to cancel the meeting.
Contents of Afghan Letter
Through their representative in the UN Nazifullah Salarzai said the trip to Pakistan’s capital together with meeting such a high-level leader would pose huge threats to the stability of his country. Besides that, meeting the Prime Minister of Pakistan would amount to legal and official recognition of the leaders who are behind an armed group that has caused havoc in Afghanistan for years. Furthermore, the same leaders have travel restrictions placed on them by the UNSC. But according to people in the know the Afghan complaint might not have been the main reason that led to the cancellation.
While the meeting seemed to have been set in motion inside the Taliban, there were disputes between the leaders. They were divided on how close they wanted their relationship with Pakistan to be open in the public domain since the latter has come to the aid of the former on many occasions. According to an unnamed source the Pakistan government has always had the back of the Taliban. They have housed their leaders in their midst and help them evade the military operations from Afghan soldiers and airstrikes from the US. Apart from that the Pakistanis also had their doubts concerning the meeting. Security agencies were divided on what their country stood to gain from the meeting during a time their neighbors are pressurizing them. Reports have emerged that perpetrators of recent attacks on India and Iran forces came from Pakistan. Furthermore, it’s believed they are based in Pakistan.
But in addition to the above reasons according to two officials from the Afghan side who requested to be anonymous Pakistan might have also pulled out of the meeting because of another problem. Pakistan was added on the Financial Action Taskforce list of greyed countries for supporting terrorists. The latter is responsible for preventing the financing of terrorists through money laundering. According to the two officials, Pakistan didn’t want to escalate the issues it’s currently facing from the Financial Action Taskforce.
Afghan Officials Question Effectiveness of the Ban
While this recent trip led to Afghan authorities raising their complaints against the effectiveness of the UNSC ban reports show Taliban officials have been travelling around the globe without any problems. The leaders have been to Moscow, China and Abu Dhabi. In their trip to Abu Dhabi, it’s believed the top leaders were flown in by a military plan from Pakistan. The meeting took place last month and in attendance were US diplomats.
Further on in China, the same leaders had a taste of the country’s bullet trains and were amazed by the development China has in place. In China, they were able to move freely and were in several cities. They flew in through commercial airline and chartered flights. On the other hand in Moscow, the Taliban senior leaders flew in through Qatari Airline and stayed in Hotel Metropol. It’s in Moscow that they met with Afghan opposition leaders and had a talk. Apart from travelling through Qatar airline Taliban also has an office present in Doha Qatar. To evade capture and recognition, the Taliban officials travel with Pakistani passports with an alias. Apart from owning Pakistan passports, others use Afghan passports.
Moreover, they are invited by countries such a France, China, Russia and the US to attend meetings and their security and expenses during the trip taken care off by countries inviting them. If the Sunday meeting went on according to plan, it would have been held at the same time that Crown Prince Mohammed would have been in the country. And according to people at the center of the whole story many would have seen this as an indication that Prince Mohammed would be among the attendees. While the meeting didn’t take place, it has raised questions and created a debate around the movement of the insurgent leaders.