Pakistan to Host Trilateral Dialogue with China and Afghanistan


Pakistan is set to host a day-long trilateral dialogue with China and Afghanistan in Islamabad after the arrival of the Chinese and Afghan foreign ministers, Qin Gang and Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, on Friday. The dialogue aims to discuss peace, security, and stability matters in the region.

In addition to attending the fifth round of the trilateral dialogue between the three countries on Saturday, the two foreign ministers will also participate in bilateral discussions with their Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. Muttaqi, who has long been subjected to a travel ban, asset freeze, and arms embargo under UN Security Council sanctions, was allowed to travel to Uzbekistan last month for a meeting of the foreign ministers of neighboring countries of Afghanistan.

According to TOLOnews outlet, media in Pakistan have been reporting on the upcoming visit, and Muttaqi is scheduled to meet with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. However, Afghanistan’s foreign ministry has not yet commented on the reported trip.

Meanwhile, representatives of nearly two dozen countries and international institutions met in Qatar for talks on Afghanistan, focusing particularly on the plight of women and girls under the Taliban administration. The Taliban authorities were not invited to attend the closed-door two-day meeting in Doha.The meeting aimed to achieve a common understanding within the international community on how to engage with the Taliban. Key discussion topics included women’s and girls’ rights, inclusive governance, countering terrorism and drug trafficking.

Since seizing power in August 2021, Taliban authorities have imposed rules that the UN has labeled “gender-based apartheid.” Women have been barred from almost all secondary education and universities and prevented from working in most government jobs. Last month, Taliban authorities extended the ban to working with UN agencies.

The Taliban administration says the ban is an “internal issue” that should not influence foreign dealings. However, in response, the UN has ordered a review of its critical relief operation in Afghanistan, where many in the 38-million-strong population rely on food aid. The review is due to be completed on Friday. The UN has said it faces an “appalling choice” over whether to maintain its relief efforts in Afghanistan.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “reversing all measures that restrict women’s rights to work is key to reaching the millions of people in Afghanistan that require humanitarian assistance.” Though not invited to the talks, the head of the Taliban representative office in Doha, Sohail Shaheen, said he had met with delegation members from the United Kingdom and China. He said the UN meeting and “the importance of engagement” were among topics raised.

In conclusion, the trilateral dialogue between Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan, along with the international community’s efforts to engage with the Taliban, highlights the ongoing security and human rights concerns in Afghanistan. While the dialogue provides a platform for regional cooperation, the UN’s review of its critical relief operation underscores the pressing need to address the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.