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Alternate Goals

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The Organisation of Islamic Countries held a meeting in Pakistan at the behest of Saudi Arabia on Sunday to discuss the crisis in Afghanistan. On the face of it, not much was achieved in real terms if the purpose was as claimed – making life easier for the Afghan people. This is because the real objective seems to have been to protect ‘strategic interests’ in that country. This is particularly so in the case of Pakistan, which has convinced itself that the Taliban victory was of its making. While the Taliban do not subscribe to that notion, the US has taken it quite seriously, leaving Pakistan out in the cold in very significant ways. Others like China and Russia also attended, as they too are hoping to reap the harvest from the US defeat.

Significantly though, Central Asian countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, who are also members of OIC, instead sent their foreign ministers to participate in a meeting held in India on the same issue. This is a clear indication that Afghanistan’s ‘other’ neighbours, who have a stake in ensuring peace in the region, are aware that the power game being played out is not exactly in favour of the Afghan people.

This is borne out by the events that have taken place in that country over the last twenty years. India has been a consistent friend focused almost entirely on development and societal progress. This is why the common Afghan has only a good perception of India. The Taliban, too, have not taken long to realise this. To the chagrin of the Pakistanis, they have already reached out to India for aid and succour. Food aid and medicines were immediately provided and it was only Pakistani recalcitrance that delayed its departure.

Even in the OIC family, Pakistan is the only country hoping that the current fundamentalist trend continues so that it can be, eventually, directed against India. This flies in the face of evidence that it would, itself, be the most adversely affected. The Central Asian countries are extremely averse to the idea of radical Islam making its way across the borders in the form of terror activities, hence are eager for a more civilised alternative. Even apart from the bulk of the OIC, other entities like the UN, European Union, etc., are adopting a hands off policy at the present. The Taliban want official recognition, which will not be forthcoming without delivering on human rights, particularly those of women. Till then, the Afghans will continue to suffer.