Taliban can only gain recognition through Afghan people’s support: Karzai

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai said that the current Taliban government in Afghanistan can get international recognition only through the "support of the Afghan people".

International legitimacy could only be achieved through the expression of the will of the Afghan people, either in the form of elections or holding the Loya Jirga, a traditional grand council of representatives from various parts of the country, he said in an interview with Voice of America (VOA) on Saturday.

Karzai spoke with the VOA nearly two months after the United States and its Nato allies left Afghanistan, ending the US longest war in history.

The Taliban last month announced the new government in Afghanistan a week after a chaotic departure of US-led foreign forces from the country, giving top posts to those fighters who dominated the 20-year battle against the coalition and its Afghan government allies.

Chief Taliban Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid unveiled a 33-member cabinet, which included Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund as the new prime minister, while the group’s top negotiator with the US Mullah Ghani Baradar to be his deputy.

There are no women in the new interim government, which has been announced after the approval of Taliban chief Mullah Haibatullah.

Karzai told VOA that Pakistan is not the representative of the Afghan people. "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."

Also read: Turkey can play active role in renovating, restoring Afghanistan: Taliban FM

"We have deep people-to-people relations with Pakistan.… Our hope from Pakistan is that the country should not try to maintain its relations with us through interference, the encouragement of extremism and terrorism or by force, but rather establish relations with Afghanistan through civil principles and principles of international relations, and we will happily maintain that relationship with them," he added.

While in power, both Karzai and his successor Ashraf Ghani have frequently accused Pakistan of supporting the Afghan Taliban and providing them with training and safe havens on its soil, charges that Islamabad has denied.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, Pakistan has been urging the new rulers to include all segments of society in the government in order to gain “international acceptability”.

Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the world earlier this month to engage with Afghanistan, warning that there were hardliners within the Taliban movement, who, if pushed away by the international community, could easily go back to the Taliban of 2000.

In an interview with Middle East Eye, a London-based online news outlet, PM Imran asked the United States to “pull itself together” or face the collapse of the war-torn country, which would become a haven of terrorists.

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