Iftikhar Malik urges West to engage with Taliban leaders for peace and stability

ISLAMABAD (APP): Former SAARC President Iftikhar Ali Malik on Sunday urged the West to engage with the new top leadership of the Taliban in order to achieve durable peace and stability in the region.

Talking to a delegation of industrialists led by Taimur Ali Malik here, he said that a new golden opportunity had arisen in the war-torn country and the West must take advantage of it, said a press release.

Iftikhar said the appointment of Maulvi Abdul Kabir as Prime Minister Afghanistan reflects a significant shift from the traditional rigid Taliban decision-making to a more contemporary, that is more open to dialogue.

He said it is very much in the global interest to have Afghanistan remain stable and at peace with its neighbours. Thus, the international community should not waste this opportunity, debating whether a change in the premiership is a sufficient indicator that the Taliban is willing to shift its domestic and foreign policy. It is, indeed, a clear signal that there is space for engagement, he added.

Iftikhar said the West should reach out to the Taliban and demonstrate readiness to negotiate the lifting of sanctions and the gradual reintroduction of development aid. Such engagement is crucial to prevent one of the worst humanitarian crises of the past decades and a new conflict destabilizing the region, he added.

He said this change in leadership can be seen as a positive development and an indication of willingness on the part of the Taliban to open up. He said that the recent decision by the authorities in Herat to allow several middle and high schools for girls to reopen was one such step.

The new Afghan premier may soon lift the ban on women working in the humanitarian field, as there is already exemptions for the health sector and certain key NGOs.

Leader of the delegation Taimur Ali Malik said that as a response to this strategic move by the Taliban, the international community should cash this opportunity.

He said feeling more confident on the domestic front and in their ability to govern without serious opposition, the Taliban appears ready for a greater degree of openness and dialogue with the outside world. Kabir’s appointment is a reflection of this openness, he concluded.