Taliban should first seek internal legitimacy to receive international recognition: Ex-Afghan president Karzai

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Oct 18, 2021, 01:05 PM IST

Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. Photograph:(WION)

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Former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai said the Taliban government needs to receive internal legitimacy first for it to gain international recognition, which can only be achieved through holding elections

Nearly two months after taking over Afghanistan, the Taliban government has been struggling to receive legitimacy from the international community.

Only a handful of states—Russia, China and Pakistan—have expressed their willingness to recognise the new regime, even as major countries like US, UK and India continue to oppose the “oppressive regime”.

In an interview with the Voice of America (VOA), former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai said the Taliban government needs to receive internal legitimacy first for it to gain international recognition, which can only be achieved through holding elections.

International recognition requires internal legitimacy

Karzai said the Taliban government needs to first derive legitimacy from “the will of Afghan people”, which could only be achieved either in the form of elections or holding the Loya Jirga, a traditional grand council of representatives from various parts of the country.

He stressed that Afghanistan is at a critical juncture in its history and Afghans have a responsibility to “unite” and create a government premised on “the expression of the will of the Afghan people.”

“Legitimacy within our own country for this government [Taliban] or for any other government is the foundation of recognition by countries and the international community,” Karzai told VOA.

“How to bring about legitimacy within the country is of course premised on either an election or, in the case of Afghanistan, especially under the current circumstances, the expression of the will of the Afghan people through the Loya Jirga and the introduction of a constitution and so on,” he added.

Reacting to Pakistan showing support to the Taliban government, Karzai said, “My message to Pakistan, our brotherly country, is that they should not try to represent Afghanistan. On the contrary, the country should try to establish a civil relationship with our country.”

Recognition by countries is essential for the Taliban for several purposes. Without recognition, the Taliban won’t be able to enter into treaties with other states. The absence of recognition hampers a government’s ability to receive foreign aid, for businesses in the country to trade with the world and carry out overseas transactions, for its citizens to travel abroad and much more.

IS threat, regional consensus

Speaking on the growing violence in Afghanistan perpetrated by the Islamic State terror group, Karzai said the militant group is a threat to both Afghanistan and the region.

The militant group’s local branch, known as the Islamic State Khorasan, has claimed responsibility for several vicious attacks in recent weeks in Kabul, Kunduz and Kandahar provinces, where more than 100 civilians have been killed and many others wounded, particularly the minority communities.

“As proven by the unfortunate bomb blasts — rather, suicide attacks in the mosque in Kabul two weeks ago, then in Kunduz last week, and then in Kandahar yesterday (October 15) — this has proven that Daesh (IS) is a threat to Afghanistan and to the life and livelihood of the Afghan people,” Karzai said.

Karzai said the region will support Afghanistan in its fight against IS, because it could pose a threat to their security, while expressing hope that regional powers would seek common ground in Afghanistan.

He said it is Afghanistan’s responsibility to work with other countries in the region “in a way that results in peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

Women’s rights

In more than a month since the Taliban formed government, the militant group came out with policies that sought to put more restrictions on women’s civil liberties.

From banning women to share classrooms with male students in universities, to enforcing dress code diktat on women, the Taliban government has been gaining the ire of the international community for not fulfilling pledges to respect the rights of women and minorities, and for not including enough members from other ethnic groups in the Cabinet.

Speaking on the issue, Karzai stressed the importance of women returning to the workplace, universities and schools. He said this desire primarily comes from the Afghan people, whether or not the international community demands it.

“The rights of Afghan women to work and to be present in all walks of life in our country is primarily the demand of the Afghan people,” he said. “So, even if the international community doesn’t ask for it, it is our demand, the Afghan demand, and our need.”

Karzai continues to live in Kabul with his family and is the father of two daughters and a son. He said he wants his daughters and son to be educated.

“I want my son to be the best educated. I want him to study, to study at home and study abroad and get the best education. I want my daughters to be the best-educated, study at home, and when the time comes, study abroad, and fulfil their personal aspirations, and through the fulfilment of their personal aspirations, the aspirations of the Afghan people,” he said.

“I want them to remain patriotic Afghans, as all other Afghan children,” he added.