SAARC foreign ministers’ meeting canceled after Pakistan insists on Taliban participation

The annual meeting of SAARC foreign ministers scheduled for 25 September was canceled as most member states refused to consider Pakistan’s request to allow the Taliban regime to represent Afghanistan at the meeting.

Most countries have not yet recognized Taliban rule in Afghanistan

PM Modi addressing SAARC leaders including Ashraf Ghani in a video conference on March 15, 2020

Pakistan has been insisting that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan be allowed to send a representative to the upcoming SAARC foreign ministers meeting. This annual meeting was held virtually in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An informal meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Council of Ministers was to be held in person in New York on the sidelines of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September.

However, the Nepalese Foreign Ministry issued a release saying that the meeting has been canceled due to “lack of consent from all member states”.

Release issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal | india today
Sources tell India Today that most of the SAARC member states refused to consider Pakistan’s request to allow the Taliban regime to represent Afghanistan at the informal meeting.
Pakistan also stressed that no representative of the Ashraf Ghani-led Afghan government would be allowed in the SAARC foreign ministers meeting at any cost.

Due to opposition from most of the member states to these requests, a consensus could not be reached and the SAARC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting scheduled for 25 September had to be cancelled.

The Taliban overthrew a democratically elected government in Afghanistan on 15 August this year. Following the withdrawal of US troops from Kabul on 31 August, the Taliban announced the formation of an interim cabinet to manage the country’s affairs.

Amir Khan Muttaki was named acting foreign minister in the Taliban regime led by Mullah Akhund, the head of the terrorist group’s most powerful decision-making body – the Rahbari Shura.

However, very few countries have recognized the Taliban regime as a legitimate government representing the Afghan people.

Afghanistan is the youngest member state of SAARC, with seven other member states – India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The SAARC Secretariat was established on 17 January 1987 in Kathmandu.
The group also has nine observers, namely China, the European Union (EU), Iran, the Republic of Korea, Australia, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar and the US.

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