ISLAMABAD: In what is being considered as an acceptance of the Taliban’s communication at an international forum, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) kept Afghanistan’s seat vacant at their request.
According to a report in The News, India tried to make room for ousted vice president Amruallah Saleh at the robust forum but the attempt was foiled by other member countries.
Well-placed diplomatic sources confided to the publication that right from the start of the summit, a letter by the Afghan foreign ministry was shared with some members of the SCO by the secretariat in which the Kabul administration had requested that the incumbent government is deeply engaged in domestic affairs so the chair for Afghanistan should be kept vacant.
“The letter was carrying diplomatic decency. It assured the fellow members that Afghanistan would extend full cooperation for the future endeavours of the organization and continue to work for the regional peace and stability,” the report said.
The sources pointed out that the communication by Taliban administration was profusely welcomed by most of the member countries while India maintained its silence and made attempts through backdoor channels to seek permission for Amarullah Saleh, who fled to Tajikistan after the Taliban took control of Panjshir.
Sources pointed out that the Indian delegation established clandestine contacts with Amarullah Saleh and Ahmad Masood, who are now living in the suburbs of Dushanbe.
The report added that the Indian delegation was subdued as its prime minister Narendra Modi addressed the summit via video link, who openly criticized and opposed Taliban government during his speech.
He said that the international community shouldn’t be in a rush to recognize the new Taliban government due to its “non-inclusive” nature and the way in which it was formed, without following the negotiated path.
Sources said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held several meetings in a short span of time in Dushanbe with his visiting counterparts but he avoided in shaking hands with the Indian Minister for External Affairs Jaishankar. Both sat under the same roof for hours.
The SCO composition
Russia, China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and India are all members of the China-led forum.
The 20th SCO summit marked the admission of Iran as a full member of the organisation while Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar as observers.
Afghanistan avails an observer status along some other countries of the region. Pakistan welcomed Iran’s full membership and accordance of the three countries of the observer status.