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Afghan diaspora to brainstorm ways to change ‘regime behaviour’ in Afghanistan during London meet 

No rights for Afghan women (Photo: IANS)

In a season of conferences by countries concerned with the situation in Afghanistan, a London-based Afghan diaspora group is organising yet another meet to discuss the humanitarian crisis in the South Asian nation. Afghanistan has witnessed conflict for decades with global and regional powers slugging it out in the South Asian nation for influence.

The UK-based Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) is holding a conference – the London Peace Conference on Afghanistan in conjunction with diaspora groups, activists, and international organisations to focus on the crisis in the country, reports Afghan media agency Khaama. Participants include diaspora groups, Afghan people, academics and various stakeholders.

Khaama says that representatives from a number of London-based missions including the Indian High Commission, the embassies of Germany, Slovakia and the Netherlands plan to attend the conference. Representatives from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office also will be there.

India Narrative spoke with Chris Blackburn, the head of European Outreach at Global Friends of Afghanistan (GFA) – a US-based think tank working with Afghan people from around the world about the conference and the impact of the diaspora on the Taliban regime in Kabul.

Blackburn says: “The Afghan diaspora can play a major role in helping the international community put pressure on the Taliban to change. They are the ones invested in Afghanistan’s future and are lobbying with the UN, European Union, and the US to keep on pressing the Taliban on human rights”. He adds that “it will be tough not being on the ground, but most have friends and family still stuck in Afghanistan. The Taliban can try to make the place a prison but there is always a way.”

Talking about the situation in the landlocked country, surrounded by Pakistan on its east and Iran to its west, Blackburn says: “Any effort to help Afghans unite or change the Taliban’s behaviour is welcome. Reports of al-Qaeda regrouping and working directly for the new regime is worrying. Gifting Afghanistan to the Taliban has not changed their behavior. It has only emboldened them”.

In this climate where Afghanistan is wrecked by turmoil and the Taliban continues to be outcast by the global community, the ACAA led conference plans to highlight issues such as the challenges faced by Afghan refugees, the state of human rights and women’s rights in Afghanistan, and whether things can be improved under the current regime.

Founder and Director, ACAA, Dr Nooralhaq Nasimi said: “The human rights situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated since the Taliban takeover in August 2021. The de facto group has imposed several restrictions on women and girls, limiting their access to education, employment and public interactions,” adding that immediate actions are needed to change the political climate of Afghanistan.

Earlier this week, Norway organised a conference to discuss the challenges facing the nation. Amid an international debate on whether the Taliban should be invited to such meets, which might give legitimacy to the regime, Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said that the ministry invited three people from the administration in Kabul to the Oslo Forum but they are not from the political leadership of the Taliban.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, which has been working in Afghanistan, where the Taliban had debarred women from working in the UN and other international organisations, is optimistic that only continuous dialogue will help pave the way for a resolution in the conflict-torn country.

Earlier, the European Union and Afghanistan’s northern neighbours – the Central Asian Region countries had met in the first week of June to stress on the fact that Afghanistan needs an inclusive government and humanitarian support for its people, particularly girls and women.

Earlier in May, India had joined a UN-led conference in Doha, Qatar, to discuss “the Afghan crisis” – issues such as girls’ education, work for women, drug trafficking, inclusive governance and the likely spread of terrorism from the country.

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