The United National Party has questioned the decision of the Government of Sri Lanka to officially recognise the Taliban as the Governing authority in Afghanistan.
In a statement to the media, UNP Member, Sudath Jayasundera, stated that Sri Lanka’s recognition of the Taliban has made the country one of the first to acknowledge the group’s ascent to power.
The Government has rushed to embrace the Taliban while the rest of the world is proceeding with caution. Furthermore, the Government has recognised a group that has not officially formed an administration in the country. The Taliban have publicly stated that they are still in negotiations with other groups to form a Government.
Jayasundera questioned why the Sri Lankan Government sought to immediately recognise this group.
In 2001 the Taliban was ousted from power by an international led coalition which was sanctioned by the United Nations.
At the time the Taliban was responsible for providing a sanctuary for terrorist organisations such as Al-Qaeda, who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks in America. To date the Taliban have not renounced ties with terror organisations such as Al-Qaeda which raises concerns that their assumption of power will embolden such terror outfits.
As a country who has suffered at the hands of terrorist groups, it is essential that the Government proceeds with caution. He further questioned the Government as to why they have chosen to recognise a group who was responsible for the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues.
In 2001 former Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake visited Pakistan in an attempt to save the statues. Despite the country’s efforts, the Taliban proceeded with their heinous crime of destroying the statues.
For Sri Lanka to recognise such a group, they will have to immediately issue an apology to the global Buddhist community over the destruction of the Bamiyan statues.
Jayasundera also raised concerns over the Taliban’s continued mistreatment of women. Despite statements from the Taliban that women would be allowed to continue to attend school and work, reports from the country suggest that they are not interested in upholding this promise.
Last week the Secretary-General of the U.N. stated that they have received reports of targeted killings of Afghan women. These reports were supported by the Afghan Ambassador to the U.N.
“The women of Afghan have undergone much mistreatment and it is of utmost importance that the Governing body of Afghanistan afford women their safety and freedom. The decision by the Government to recognise the Taliban has been made in haste with no proper consultation. It has left the country a laughing-stock on the international stage,” the UNP said.
Jayasundera said that had the Government withheld their recognition of the Taliban, Sri Lanka could have influenced the direction that the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) takes in regards Afghanistan. However, he said that this misstep by the Government has left the country with little bargaining power in the regional politics.
The UNP urged the Government to allow Parliament the opportunity to debate the matter and decide on a course of action in regards Afghanistan and the Taliban.