An anti-Taliban rally by Rawadari Tehreek in Lahore, Pakistan. (Photo courtesy of Samson Salamat)
As the Taliban capture Afghanistan's major border crossings with Iran, human rights activists in Lahore are protesting the response of Pakistani officials.
Speaking to reporters during the Pakistan-administered Kashmir election campaign on July 11, Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed stated that Islamabad would accept any government in Afghanistan that has the backing of the Afghan people. “The new, civilized Afghan Taliban would prefer talks to guns,” he said.
Last week the Taliban claimed that they now control 85 percent of Afghanistan's territory as American and allied troops complete their withdrawal from the war-battered country. US President Joe Biden has reiterated that the withdrawal of American forces will be completed by the end of August except for those troops left behind for the security of the US embassy in Kabul.
In Peshawar city in Pakistan's northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, people at a funeral raised flags and slogans of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, a former Taliban state established in 1996 in Afghanistan.
“Neither al-Qaeda nor Taliban. We want Jinnah’s Pakistan,” chanted members of interreligious Rawadari Tehreek (Movement for Tolerance) at a July 11 rally.
“We condemn violence and bloodshed of the innocent Afghan citizens. We are more concerned at our foreign minister and government officials praising the Taliban. This is dangerous for our country and society. The Taliban will target progressive people. I request all Pakistanis to initiate peaceful resistance against them,” said Samson Salamat, chairman of Rawadari Tehreek.
We have seen the Taliban-inspired culture of Kalashnikovs and drugs in our country. Now our economy is even more fragile
Farooq Tariq, a member of the Asia Europe People's Forum international organizing committee, expressed similar concerns.
“Supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan, in the name of increasing difficulties for Indians, will be dangerous for Pakistan. As opposed to predictions in Pakistani media, the Taliban won’t be able to occupy Kabul or enforce their writ in the central government. If the religious fanaticism succeeds in taking over Afghanistan, Pakistan will be in their reach as well,” he said.
Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, national director of the Pakistani Catholic bishops' National Commission for Justice and Peace, supported peaceful engagement with Afghanistan.
“We are in a bigger game now. Afghanis have seen enough misery, most of which goes unreported. I pray for an end to this continued killing. The US should leave after ensuring political settlement in the embattled region,” he told UCA News.
“We are closer and will be affected the most. We have seen the Taliban-inspired culture of Kalashnikovs and drugs in our country. Now our economy is even more fragile.”
In April, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack that killed five people and injured more than 12 in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province.