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Not without our Taliban: SAARC Ministers’ meet cancelled because Pakistan wanted Islamist group to participate

The SAARC summit is being held on the sidelines of 76th session of UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Reports citing sources said that Pakistan's demand was unilaterally opposed by all member countries.

The SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) meeting of foreign ministers scheduled to be held on 25th September 2021 in New York now stands cancelled over lack of consent of members who did not agree with participation of Islamist group Taliban which is currently governing Afghanistan.

This comes after Imran Khan led Pakistan government insisted and demanded that Taliban be allowed to participate and send a representative for the SAARC summit. The SAARC summit is being held on the sidelines of 76th session of UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Reports citing sources said that Pakistan’s demand was unilaterally opposed by all member countries.

Further, reports citing diplomatic sources said that Pakistan wanted the SAARC Chair Nepal to guarantee that the former Afghanistan government led by Ashraf Ghani will not represent the country at the SAARC meeting. Pakistan wanted to keep an ’empty chair’ instead. Reports said that SAARCH Chair Nepal refused to give any such guarantee to either Pakistan or Taliban leadership. Hence, as of now the meeting stands cancelled.

Taliban regime has not been recognised by most governments across the world. Also, Taliban has not yet approached the UN for credentials.

In 2020, the SAARC meeting was conducted virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAARC comprises eight member states, namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. SAARC was set up on 17 January 1987 in Kathmandu, Nepal and Afghanistan joined the group in 2007 and is the youngest member in the group. Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea, and the United States are the observers.

The Islamist group Taliban took over Afghanistan in August this year, days after the US announced withdrawal of troops, ending a twenty year old ‘war against terror’, thereby sending the country into chaos. Since then, there have been reports of Islamist group carrying out atrocities in a bid to implement the Islamic Sharia in Afghanistan. You can read more about it here.

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