Govt to decide its stand on Taliban this week

Malaysia is also engaging with other countries involved in talks with Afghanistan and OIC, says minister


THE government will decide on its official stand on the recent developments in Afghanistan in a Cabinet meeting this Friday, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (picture) said.

Following the collapse of the Afghan elected government and the Taliban takeover, Saifuddin reiterated that Malaysia is taking a cautious approach in deciding its official stand and discussions on the matter will be made during Friday’s Cabinet meeting.

He informed that Malaysia is also engaging with other countries involved in talks with Afghanistan, as well as other relevant parties namely the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The minister said he was scheduled to call the Qatar foreign minister and OIC secretary general yesterday to get information and views from all factions.

Saifuddin said Malaysia is monitoring the situation in Afghanistan through various channels including through the Malaysian High Commission in New Delhi, India which is concurrently accredited to Kabul, besides representatives in Pakistan.

“Malaysia is indeed monitoring developments in Afghanistan through various channels including through our representatives in New Delhi, India as well as in Kabul and Islamabad, Pakistan.

“The purpose of doing that is because we want to make valid decisions,” he said in a press conference after a working visit to the South-East Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) yesterday.

Last week, Saifuddin said the government is following the development in Kabul and the whole of Afghanistan very closely.

“We are taking a very cautious approach and we will probably need more information to understand what is happening on the ground,” the minister said.

Other countries, including Asean nations have not issued any official statement regarding the Taliban government, taking a cautious approach on the matter.

However, AFP reported that China is ready to deepen “friendly and cooperative” relations with Afghanistan, a government spokeswoman said on Monday, after the Taliban seized control of the country.

Beijing has sought to maintain unofficial ties with the Taliban throughout the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, which spurred an advance by the Islamist hardliners across the country that saw them capture the capital Kabul on Sunday.

Meanwhile, commenting on his working visit, Saifuddin said the main aim is to enhance the role of SEARCCT so that it becomes the leading reference point for counter-terrorism work in the region.

“I have encouraged SEARCCT to work very closely on strengthening their cooperation with similar organisations which are found in many if not all of the Asean member states, and also with organisations that conduct programmes which are related to counter-terrorism. I have also asked SEARCCT to strengthen their work in three areas — research, publication and training,” he said.

He pointed out that SEARCCT’s cooperation on counter-terrorism with neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines have been positive, adding that it has cooperate with several organisations in Asean countries in the form of research, training and information exchange.

He said the ministry is very cautious of the recent events that could sway some people to immersed in terrorism.

“Because of the current situation in Afghanistan, we have reason to be more cautious. We are worried about any threat that can jeopardise the harmony of the lives of Malaysians, that is our priority at SEARCCT.

“What we are concerned about is the radical understanding that can spread among young people and so on,” he explained.

Saifuddin added that one of the approach, the ministry suggested, is peaceful co-existent, citing that he hopes SEARCCT can work on the approach to increase the understanding among people.