TEHRAN – Iran’s top security official on Wednesday criticized Afghanistan’s new government after the Taliban named ministers whose inclusion raised doubts over its willingness to address the ethnic and religious diversity of the country.
Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said he was concerned by the Taliban “ignoring the need for inclusive government, [permitting] foreign intervention and using military means instead of dialogue”.
Afghanistan’s wait for a new government ended on Tuesday with the Taliban announcing a caretaker cabinet to govern the country, seven days after the last American troops left Afghanistan.
However, there was no non-Taliban name in the government lineup, a big demand of the international community.
“Afghanistan’s first priority is stability and peace,” Shamkhani tweeted, implying the potential for more instability.
“Afghanistan stands at a crossroads,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a video conference with Taliban leaders and representatives from Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. “The U.S. and its allies withdrew hastily and the so-called ‘democratic transformation’ has ended in failure.”
“We must seize this moment of chaos to exert a positive impact on the development of Afghanistan in a way that respects its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added.
But Wang laid down preconditions for Afghanistan receiving infrastructure investment, saying Kabul needed to control security and prevent drug trafficking before announcing any Belt and Road projects in the country.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahian called for efforts to tap Afghanistan’s potentials from its diverse ethnic and religious pool and use the aid its neighbors to achieve lasting peace in the country.
The use of military force would only be a repetition of the same mistake that has happened several times in the contemporary history of Afghanistan, he said after unconfirmed reports that Pakistan’s military assets including its helicopters and drones had been used in attacking anti-Taliban forces in Panjshir Valley.
“Mr. Amir-Abdollahian emphasized in this meeting that everyone should stick to dialogue as a fundamental principle, and the neighboring countries should also help prevent foreign interference in this country,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
He said the next meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries will be held in person in Tehran within a month or two if the coronavirus pandemic allows it.
Elsewhere across the world, the EU said on Wednesday that the
Taliban’s appointments did not appear to meet its calls for an inclusive government.
“It does not look like the inclusive and representative formation in terms of the rich ethnic and religious diversity of Afghanistan we hoped to see and that the Taliban were promising over the past weeks,” said Peter Stano, spokesperson for the EU’s diplomatic arm.
Brussels has said an inclusive Afghan government is a requirement for any engagement with the Taliban-led administration.
The Taliban have said the government is temporary and would eventually be replaced with one that includes both political opponents and more representatives from ethnic groups outside of the dominant Pashtuns.