MB Subba

Bhutan is likely to take a “neutral” stand on the issue of recognition of the Taliban government, which had asked to address the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York, according to sources.

The UN’s nine-member credentials committee for the 76th session, in which Bhutan is a member, must meet to take a decision on who should be recognised as the representative of Afghanistan. The other members of the committee, which is chaired by Sweden, are the US, China, Russia, Bahamas, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Chile.

However, foreign ministry sources said that the credentials committee had not met on the matter. Officials said that the credentials committee is normally convened in early November, as per usual practice.

Sources said that the foreign ministry had not received any communication from international agencies on the issue. He said the government would not “interfere” in the internal politics of other countries.

“We will follow our neutral policy on the issue,” he said.

Sources also said that the committee will follow technical guidelines and that member countries will not have any position on the issue.

The Taliban nominated a new ambassador to the UN, saying that the ambassador appointed by the erstwhile Afghanistan government “no longer represents Afghanistan”. The committee reported that it would take “some time” to deliberate the Taliban’s request.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) foreign ministers’ in-person meeting that was supposed to take place on the sidelines of the ongoing UN Generals Assembly was also cancelled because of the status of Afghanistan following the takeover of the country by the Taliban last month, according to media reports.

An official claimed that no invitation for the foreign ministers’ meeting was communicated to the foreign ministry. The SAARC foreign ministers’ meeting would take place annually on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly had it not been for the Covid-19 situation.

Afghanistan is one of the members of the eight-member SAARC.

India has not recognized the Taliban government, according to reports. Addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the world needed to ensure that Afghanistan is not used to spread terrorism.

One of the Indian newspapers, Hindustan Times, reported that the interim setup created by the Taliban in Kabul has not been formally recognised by any country, and India has questioned its legitimacy as it is not inclusive and was not formed through negotiations.

The government did not send a high level delegation to the UN General Assembly. Bhutan’s foreign minister did not travel to New York in view of the Covid-19 situation.

During the Taliban’s rule between 1996 and 2001, the UN had refused to recognise its government.