Afghan FM to Visit Islamabad for Talks with Pakistani and Chinese


UN Chief Antonio Guterres has launched a new attack on the Taliban government’s “unprecedented” curbs on Afghan women’s rights as he emphasized international fears over the stability of the crisis-stricken state. Guterres said leading powers at a two-day meeting in Doha wanted new efforts to try to change its policies. The United Nations is reviewing its Afghan operations after the Taliban authorities banned women working for aid agencies. The review will only be completed on Friday, and the UN has said it faces an “appalling choice” over whether to stay in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi is set to visit Islamabad at the end of the week for talks with Pakistani and Chinese officials, according to a statement from the Afghan foreign ministry. Mr. Muttaqi is subject to a UN travel ban but has previously been given exemptions for official visits to Pakistan.

The United Nations Secretary-General called the talks to seek new ways to pressure the Taliban government after it banned Afghan women from working for UN agencies and NGOs. That added to international outrage after they were also barred from almost all secondary and university education and most government jobs.The talks involved envoys from the United States, Russia, China, and 20 other countries and organizations, including major European donors and neighbors such as Pakistan. Taliban authorities were not invited, however, and Guterres said he was not ready to meet them “today,” though he did not discount a future meeting.The head of the Taliban representative office in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, said that excluding a representative at the meeting could prove “counter-productive” and that “putting pressure doesn’t help in the solution of issues.” The UN Secretary-General said countries at the talks had raised fears over rights, “the persistent presence of terrorist organizations,” and drug trafficking. “The participants are worried about the stability of Afghanistan and expressed those serious concerns.”

Guterres said the “unacceptable” ban on women taking part in aid agency work “puts lives in jeopardy” because of their vital role. “We will never be silent in the face of unprecedented and systemic attacks on women and girls’ rights,” said Guterres.Mr. Muttaqi’s visit to Islamabad is expected to focus on comprehensive bilateral talks on political, Pakistan-Afghanistan economic relations, regional stability, and transit. He will also represent Afghanistan in a trilateral meeting with the foreign ministers of Pakistan and China. It will be the sixth such trilateral meeting.

In conclusion, the situation in Afghanistan continues to cause international concern, with the Taliban government’s restrictions on women’s rights being a key issue. While the United Nations is reviewing its Afghan operations, international powers are seeking new ways to pressure the Taliban government to change its policies. The upcoming visit of Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi to Islamabad for talks with Pakistani and Chinese officials is also expected to be a significant development in the ongoing situation in the region.