Taliban’s foreign policy poses risks at home and abroad

On January 10, the Taliban’s acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, sought to reassure his country’s neighbors that Afghanistan’s new government was committed to peace. “We do not create insecurity or other problems for anyone,” Muttaqi said in a video message. “Everyone can come freely and live.”

Yet despite the soothing words, the Taliban’s foreign policy, if one can call it that, has so far failed to win supporters. From its closest ally Pakistan to other friendly countries surrounding Afghanistan – such as Iran, China, and the Central Asian states – the Taliban are struggling to maintain good neighborly relations. This is as troubling for Afghanistan abroad as it is for Afghans at home. 

Tensions in relations with Pakistan are the most consequential. Islamabad has long cultivated the Taliban as an ally, and in December, Pakistan even convened an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit to raise funds for Afghanistan. But on the day of the OIC meeting, Taliban border guards prevented their Pakistani counterparts from constructing fencing along the Durand Line, the disputed border between the two countries.

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