Pakistan to Attend UN-Sponsored Conference in Doha on Afghan Engagement Roadmap

UN-Sponsored Conference

Islamabad, The Gulf Observer: Pakistan has confirmed its participation in a crucial two-day conference sponsored by the United Nations, scheduled to take place in Doha from February 18 to 19. The conference aims to discuss the roadmap for international engagement with the Afghan Taliban government.

Ambassador Asif Durrani, Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan, will lead the Pakistani delegation during the meeting of special envoys on Afghanistan in the Qatari capital. The conference is being convened by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to explore coherent and structured approaches for international engagement with Afghanistan.

In an official statement issued on Friday, the foreign office mentioned that Pakistan’s active involvement in the conference is part of its efforts to engage with the international community, including the United Nations, to enhance initiatives for lasting peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.

The conference, the second of its kind within a year, will be attended by special envoys from UN member states, international organizations, and representatives from Afghan civil society, women’s groups, and Taliban officials.

The US Institute of Peace describes the conference as a critical, high-level opportunity for donors and the region to outline the next steps in improving the situation in Afghanistan and engaging with the Taliban regime.

Key agenda items for the conference include discussions on the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crises, as well as the presentation of a recent report on a way forward by UN Special Coordinator for Afghanistan, Feridun Sinirlioğlu.

While the Afghan Taliban government has been invited to the conference, its participation remains uncertain. The Taliban government seeks to be treated as legitimate representatives of Afghanistan, raising potential challenges to consensus-building. Kabul also expresses reservations about the appointment of a UN special envoy on Afghanistan, as recommended by a recent UN resolution.

The appointment of a UN envoy to coordinate increased international engagement with Taliban leaders in Kabul is a contentious issue, supported by the United States and its European allies. However, China and Russia abstained from a December 2023 UN Security Council vote on a resolution authorizing the secretary-general to appoint a special envoy for Afghanistan.

The conference assumes significance amid a shifting international consensus, with China recently accepting the Taliban-appointed ambassador, potentially signaling recognition of the Kabul regime. For Pakistan, the conference presents a pivotal opportunity to advocate engagement with the Taliban government while linking any recognition to the Kabul administration fulfilling international commitments, particularly in denying terrorists a space to operate from Afghanistan.