KUALA LUMPUR: An aide from Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s office insisted today that a recent meeting between the special envoy to the Middle East and the Taliban government was merely a “dialogue” with the Islamist organisation facilitated by the Qatari government.
Hadi’s officer Syahir Sulaiman said in a statement, Hadi had “conveyed Malaysia’s official stance” at the meeting with Taliban delegates in Doha, Qatar, and denied that the meeting symbolises Putrajaya recognising the Taliban government, on February 4.
“Regarding the recognition, the special envoy conveyed Malaysia’s official stance that remains the same as stated by the foreign minister,” Syahir said.
The meeting with Taliban delegates and the decision to donate US$100,000 (RM410,000) to the United Nations for humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan had been coordinated together with the foreign affairs ministry, the Malaysian Embassy, and its Qatari counterparts, Syahir added.
Last month Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah said, the Malaysian government is taking “a cautious approach”, and will wait for cue from international bodies like the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) before deciding whether or not it would establish diplomatic ties with the group.
In turn, Hadi’s reported pledge to give economic and humanitarian aid had been criticised by the Opposition.
One of them was Amanah deputy president Datuk Salahuddin Ayub who described the pledge as premature, and questioned if it had the cabinet’s approval.
Syahir said the “dialogue session” was requested by Hadi’s office, claiming it had been working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Malaysian embassy.
Both the ministry and the embassy have not indicated their involvement in the meeting so far.
The criticism came in response to a statement by the Taliban’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Mohammed Suhail Shaheen, who asserted Malaysia’s willingness to provide economic and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
The Taliban swept back into power without much resistance in August last year after Washington ordered its remaining troops to leave the conflict-riddled country, causing the collapse of the pro-West Afghanistan government and marked the end of yet another humiliating episode of US foreign policy.
Most governments, including from majority-Muslim countries, have been hesitant to recognise the Taliban, citing concerns over its human rights track record when it reigned brutally before the US invaded the country.
Taliban leaders, however, have pledged to be “more open”, saying it would allow women to work and girls to attend school.