Russia, China, Pakistan and the United States are working together to ensure that Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers keep their promises, especially to form a genuinely representative government and prevent extremism from spreading, Russia’s foreign minister said Saturday.
Sergey Lavrov said the four countries are in ongoing contact. He said representatives from Russia, China and Pakistan recently traveled to Qatar and then to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, to engage with both the Taliban and representatives of “secular authorities” — former president Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah, who headed the ousted government’s negotiating council with the Taliban.
Lavrov said the interim government announced by the Taliban does not reflect “the whole gamut of Afghan society — ethno-religious and political forces — so we are engaging in contacts. They are ongoing.”
The Taliban have promised an inclusive government, a more moderate form of Islamic rule than when they last ruled the country from 1996 to 2001 including respecting women’s rights, providing stability after 20 years of war, fighting terrorism and extremism and stopping militants from using their territory to launch attacks. But recent
moves suggest they may be returning to more repressive policies, particularly toward women and girls.
“What’s most important … is to ensure that the promises that they have proclaimed publicly to be kept,” Lavrov said. “And for us, that is the top priority.”
At a wide-ranging news conference and in his speech afterward at the UN General Assembly, Lavrov criticized the Biden administration including for its hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan.
He said the US and NATO pullout “was carried out without any consideration of the consequences … that there are many weapons left in Afghanistan.” It remains critical, he said, that such weapons aren’t used for “destructive purposes.”
Later, in his assembly speech, Lavrov accused the United States and its Western allies of “persistent attempts to diminish the UN’s role in resolving the key problems of today or to sideline it or to make it a malleable tool for promoting someone’s selfish interests.”