In a strong symbolic message the Taliban formed its cabinet in the run up to the 9/11 anniversary with plans to hold the oath-taking ceremony to coincide with the same date. The day marks the 20th anniversary of the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001. This comes as Afghan diplomats around the world have refused to pledge allegiance to the Taliban government. Even the Afghanistan embassy in New Delhi continues to fly the red-green and black national flag of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
This last week has also seen action on the intelligence front. Richard Moore, Head of the UK's Intelligence Agency MI6 was the first to meet NSA Ajit Doval. That visit was followed by CIA Chief William Burns. The latest to arrive was Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. He met NSA Ajit Doval as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Meanwhile following the BRICS Summit, member nations - Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa - have supported India's perspective on the situation in Afghanistan. The countries have reiterated that Afghan territory should not be used for terrorism or drug trafficking in the neighbourhood. M. Ashraf Haidari, Afghan Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Amar Sinha, Former Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan and Dr Irfan Nooruddin, Director of the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center shared their perspective. He is also a professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
When asked how much of an imprint Pakistan’s ISI has on Taliban cabinet that has been announced, Sinha said, “I would say that they have a huge imprint. Taliban government today is a Pakistani project, let us not forget that. They were nurtured, they were supported for 20 years and enabled to fight the America etc, so Pakistan sees that some of its long-term objectives have been achieved.”
“At the end of the day, the particular composition of the cabinet is depressing because this is a new reality in Afghanistan. After 20 years of incremental but meaningful progress towards the much more inclusive and open society, they have taken the giant steps backwards and this cabinet confirms that,” said Nooruddin.
For the entire discussion, watch the accompanying video.