The major powers are pursuing a “wait and see” policy towards the Taliban, which has returned to power in Afghanistan after two decades.
The Taliban is currently seeking international legitimacy. However, the interim government announced by the Taliban this week has disappointed democracies.
The Taliban’s cabinet is not inclusive, and some of its members are on the UN terror list. The Taliban 20 years ago and the current Taliban were expected to be different, but the cabinet is dominated by hardliners. One month after the Taliban took power, peace and stability in Afghanistan have become increasingly difficult. Instead, it seems to be mired in internal violence and instability.
If political stability is not maintained in Afghanistan and violence spreads, it is certain to have a serious impact on peace and stability in South Asia. Due to Nepal’s lack of bilateral relations and geographical boundaries, the developments in Afghanistan do not affect Nepal much, but Nepal cannot remain completely untouched. There are enough signs of instability in Nepal.
As soon as the Taliban seized power, Nepal’s first priority was to rescue the Nepalis there. After the rescue of nearly 900 people, there has been a debate in Kathmandu at government and non-government levels about Nepal’s policy on Taliban 2.0 and its impact on the region.
Analysts see this as the beginning of Nepal’s Afghanistan policy-making.
Last year, the Secretariat of the National Security Council met with officials from all four security agencies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Institute for Foreign Affairs Studies to discuss developments in Afghanistan and their impact on Nepal.
According to an official who participated in the discussion, the discussion was mainly focused on three issues. The first is the issue of rescuing the remaining Nepalis, the second is the issue of Nepal’s diplomatic relations with the Taliban government and the third is the security and refugee issues that could arise due to the developments in Afghanistan.
In this regard, the Institute for Foreign Affairs Studies under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday discussed with diplomats, former ambassadors, and security personnel the possible effects of the developments in Afghanistan on South Asia and Nepal. In that discussion, the issues pointed out by the experts have been presented in point form.
Nepal should take a closer look at the developments
Experts say the situation in Afghanistan needs to be looked at closely. However, this task is very challenging as there is no Nepali embassy or liaison in Afghanistan. At present, the responsibility of looking after Afghanistan lies with the Nepalese Embassy in Delhi.
So the only way to find out about the Taliban is through the Afghan media and the international media. But analysts say the government needs to take a closer look at the Taliban’s future. Former Foreign Secretary Gyan Chandra Acharya Nepal says that the situation there should be closely watched. “We need to look at not only the internal situation there, but also what other countries are doing about Afghanistan, what kind of path they are taking,” he said.
Refugee problem may Occur
Thousands of Afghans have fled the country since the Taliban came to power. Similarly, thousands want to leave troubled Afghanistan. Afghan nationals have already arrived in India, Pakistan, and the Gulf. Experts say that if the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, Afghan citizens will come to Nepal and their management will be challenging for the government. The previous arrival of Rohingya and Bhutanese refugees has shown the same situation. Home Ministry spokesperson Phanindra Mani Pokharel said that the problem of refugees could come. He said “We have assessed the possibility of a refugee problem. We have instructed the security forces to remain vigilant in this regard. Especially in Kathmandu and Pokhara, there is a possibility of refugees coming. Security has also been tightened at the border. Former AIG of the Armed Police Force, Raviraj Thapa, said that Afghan citizens should come as refugees in one form or another and security arrangements should be made for that now.
Airport and border security should be strengthened
Experts say the Taliban’s arrival will boost the morale of other groups with or without indirect ties to them and expand their influence. Analysts say that only open borders and airports with India allow members of extremist groups to come to Nepal and carry out various activities here, adding that airport and border security should be strengthened. After the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight from Nepal in 1999, Nepal has been under a lot of pressure from India in terms of security, and security experts have suggested being especially vigilant to prevent any similar incidents in the future. Security expert Purna Silwal says it would be quick to conclude that the security impact is already there, but caution is needed. He said, “It is necessary to strengthen the security situation at the airport by learning lessons from the hijacking incident from Kathmandu.” He said that Afghanistan was once again in conflict and that it would adversely affect South Asia. Experts say vigilance is needed at the airport as well as at madrassas and open borders.
There may be more Nepalis in Afghanistan
The government is deceiving people who want to return from Afghanistan and has said that 34 people in Kabul will be brought to Nepal soon. Government officials say the rescue operation in Afghanistan is in its final stages. But experts say there may still be Nepalis in Afghanistan and they need to be searched. People have gone to work in four main areas in Afghanistan. First, the security guards of various embassies, most of whom have returned. Second, there are Nepalis serving as security guards at the United Nations and other international bodies, some of whom have returned, while others say they are safe and will continue to work. Third, there are Nepalis working as technical experts in various offices. Fourth, there are other migrant workers who have gone there, Some of them have even reached through illegal channels. Former Director-General of the Department of Foreign Employment Purnachandra Bhattarai says that 17,000 Nepali workers have gone to Afghanistan so far and 6,600 people have gone for employment in the last five years alone. The Government of Nepal does not have data on how many of them have returned. The government has been saying that there are 1500 Nepalis recently. Foreign employment research donor Jeevan Bania says there are some Nepalis in Afghan jails but the government does not have the data. According to him, those Nepalis have not even received legal services. He says that there are some Nepalis but the government does not have the data. According to him, those Nepalis have not even received legal services. He says that there are some Nepalis but the government does not have the data. According to him, those Nepalis have not even received legal services.
Can SAARC play a role in Afghanistan?
Experts are divided over the role that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and SAARC chair country Nepal can play in Afghanistan. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and some experts, SAARC has no role to play. However, some experts say that SAARC and Nepal can and should speak on humanitarian and other issues. Former Ambassador Khagraj Adhikari says that SAARC President Nepal should not turn a blind eye to the developments in Afghanistan. He said SAARC countries could call for inclusive government, emphasizing peace and stability there. According to officials, the ASEAN regional body ASEAN has issued a five-point joint statement on the developments in Myanmar. He said, “SAARC chair country Nepal can make a statement in consultation with other countries.”
Former Ambassador Dr. Shambhuram Sinkhada says Nepal needs serious consultations with its neighbors and other friends in Afghanistan. He said the SAARC Secretariat should take some steps to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan at a time when there is a humanitarian crisis. But former foreign secretary Gyan Chandra Acharya said SAARC could consult with other countries informally even if it did not take formal action.
When will Nepal form its own opinion?
With the advent of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, a debate has begun over what kind of attitude Nepal should have towards it. Similarly, the Taliban have a say in what Nepal will do in the event of increased dialogue and contacts between different countries. Although Nepal does not have a direct bilateral issue with Afghanistan, analysts say that Nepal should be prepared for it as it has to speak in various regional and international forums. However, analysts say that Nepal is not ready to take a position and make it public as the big countries are still in the policy of ‘wait and see’. Executive Director of the Center for Nepal and South Asian Studies under Tribhuvan University, Dr. Mrigendra Bahadur Karki says that Nepal should not rush into this matter. He said, “We’ll have to wait a while because we’re not sure how things will go.” The Nepali government has so far not spoken much on Afghanistan. Two days after the Taliban took power, the foreign ministry said in a statement that it was closely monitoring developments in Afghanistan. Nepal said it wanted to see long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.
What is the world’s perception of the interim government?
The world is worried about the recent incident in Afghanistan. The United Nations has objected to the Taliban’s use of violence against women and other groups protesting in the streets. In recent days, there have been nationwide demonstrations demanding women’s rights. The United Nations says the Taliban have killed four people in recent protests. Similarly, democratic countries have also objected to the announcement of an interim government. China has been somewhat positive about the Taliban and has announced some financial support. In the current context, it is unlikely that the Taliban will gain international legitimacy.