There is little sign that the Taliban are willing to enter into peace talks, admitted Alison Blake, the British ambassador to Kabul.
With the UK joining the US in a military exit from Afghanistan in September, he told a Chatham House conference that the Taliban were engaged in psychological warfare and were ignoring Western voices calling for a sharing of power and a commitment to protect the Women rights.
International terrorist groups were still active in Afghanistan, as evidenced by the “terrible bombing” of a school in Kabul that left more than 80 dead, he also admitted.
“The Doha talks are clearly calm. We are nowhere near where we expected to be at the moment, ”he said, referring to negotiations in the Qatari capital between the Afghan government and the Taliban to try to reach a power-sharing agreement.
“We remain committed to an international conference in Istanbul to inject momentum into the Doha process and not replace it. But there is still little sign that the Taliban are transforming into a political partner that we hoped would be able to participate in a political process in good faith. “
He also admitted that “the Taliban, so far, have given us some headlines that say ‘of course girls can get an education’, but they haven’t started sitting down with Afghans to explain how that is.”
His comments show the challenge facing the British government in proving that NATO’s 20-year intervention will leave a permanent legacy in Afghanistan. There are still 10,000 NATO soldiers in the country, including some 700 British.
“They may be tempted to dismiss Western voices because in the moment they think we are going because they have won,” he said. “It is very important that they understand that although the international troops are leaving, the field is not left open to them.”
He stated that it would be a point of certain danger for the Taliban “when they encounter the new reality” that they must share power. Future aid would depend on that shared power, he said.
He insisted there was “a window for peace” due to the unprecedented willingness, inconceivable a year ago, for the Afghan government to share power with the Taliban on the right terms.
At the same time, there was increased regional support, including in Pakistan, for an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan leading to a stable peaceful neighborhood. “This is not the time when we abandon Afghanistan to the retrograde forces or drift away to allow it to implode or fight, or for proxy wars to erupt beneath the surface,” he insisted.
His comments came as reports circulated in Whitehall that foreign aid to Afghan security forces will be cut and that NGOs operating in Afghanistan are forced to work on two-month budgets pending government decisions. As recently as November 2020, the UK had pledged £ 155 million for 2021 and £ 70 million in foreign aid for Afghan security forces.
Blake made no specific promises about future aid, but said the Afghan state “still critically depended on the support of international financial institutions and donors. It would be a challenge for them if that was drastically reduced or stopped. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism