While addressing a multitude of issues during his UNGA speech, PM Shehbaz Sharif also touched upon the situation in Afghanistan both from a humanitarian and security perspective. While on one hand the PM Shehbaz urged the international community to remain engaged with the Afghan Taliban, he also shared global concerns over the presence of terrorist groups on Afghan soil. According to reports, expressing concerns regarding militant groups did not go down well with Kabul as it denied the presence of any armed groups on its soil.

The interim Afghan government perhaps is in a state of denial because it is hard to understand its reaction to Islamabad stating hard facts. The Afghan government has itself been dealing with the growing presence of ISIS-K on its soil as the hardline group has conducted a series of attacks around the country over the past year. Many other reports also point towards the presence of groups such as the TTP, Al-Qaeda (with Zawahiri being killed recently in Afghanistan), ETIM and UMU.

The Afghan foreign ministry has responded to these shared concerns by stating that these are based on incorrect information and sources and that the territory of Afghanistan will not be used against any other country nor does any armed group currently have a presence in Afghanistan.

The foreign ministry further urged for positive engagement with the Islamic Emirate by sharing their view and concerns directly and not through the media or public statements. However, the fact of the matter is that Islamabad has remained an advocate of the de-facto rulers of Afghanistan at the world forums and has consistently asked the international community, particularly the western world not to abandon the war-torn country. Despite this, the Afghan government has turned back on each and every commitment it made to the international community upon taking over the government, most particularly the rights of women and clamping down on terror groups.

In fact, recently Pakistan wrote a letter to the Afghan government about the presence of banned Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar in Afghanistan and asked for his handover. In predictable fashion, Kabul rejected those allegations and insisted that Azhar was not present on Afghan soil. Instead of being in denial and playing the victim card, the Taliban should realise that as long as it continues to obfuscate and avoids fulfilling the promises it made to the international community, it will not be granted the engagement and recognition it so desperately seeks.