JAKARTA: Indonesia’s government has said it remains committed to supporting the peace process in Afghanistan despite uncertainty surrounding the new Taliban regime, which took control of the war-torn country this month.
It also reaffirmed Indonesia’s role in facilitating peace talks between the Taliban and the deposed Kabul government led by President Ashraf Ghani, who fled Afghanistan hours after the Taliban’s bloodless capture of the Afghan capital on Aug. 15.
The Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s director-general for Asia, Pacific and African affairs, Abdul Kadir Jailani, said he had conveyed Jakarta’s commitment to Afghanistan’s new rulers during a virtual meeting with Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy chief of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Qatar, on Aug. 14.
“During the meeting, I reaffirmed our commitment to support peacebuilding in Afghanistan,” Jailani told Arab News.
“I also conveyed our expectation for a diplomatic guarantee that they would not do anything to our embassy,” he added.
According to Jailani, Hanafi assured him that the Indonesian mission would remain secure after the Taliban came to power.
However, on Friday, Indonesia temporarily relocated its diplomatic mission from Kabul to Islamabad, changing its initial plan to maintain its mission with only an essential team in the Afghan capital.
“For some reason, there were new dynamics on the field that we could not manage,” Jailani said, without elaborating further.
The mission in Islamabad includes a charge d’affaires and diplomatic and security staff. They will be moved back to Kabul as soon as the situation allows, Jailani added.
Jakarta evacuated 26 Indonesians, two Afghans — a local staff member of the Indonesian Embassy and the husband of an Indonesian national — and five Filipinos following a request from the Philippine government.
The Indonesian Air Force plane that transported the evacuees arrived at the air force base in Jakarta on Saturday morning, completing a mission that began three days earlier. To begin with, the plane had to remain on standby to depart for Kabul on short notice, with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in constant communication with her Dutch, Turkish, Norwegian and American counterparts, as well as NATO, to secure the plane’s landing permit in Kabul.
Indonesia eventually secured the permit to land on Friday morning and was allowed a short landing time to get the evacuees on board, Jailani said.
Despite the Taliban rulers’ verbal pledge that they would give general amnesty to those who worked for the deposed regime and the international forces, Jailani said it remains to be seen if they would keep their word and make those “positive promises” a reality.
“They would need to reconcile, forge an inclusive peace process. Therefore, giving a general amnesty would be vital,” he said.
As Indonesia and the rest of the international community await an official announcement by the new Taliban regime, Jailani said Indonesia expects there to be an inclusive government.
“In this regard, they need to have a political settlement based on the Afghan-led, Afghan-owned principle, to establish an inclusive government, and for this, Indonesia underscores the importance of respect to human rights, especially the rights of women and the minority groups,” he said.
Indonesia’s peace-building efforts include hosting an under-the-radar meeting between a Taliban delegation, led by the group’s leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and then-Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Muslim organizations in Jakarta in July 2019.
This followed a trilateral conference between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Muslim scholars (ulema) in Bogor, near Jakarta, in May 2018.
Earlier in 2018, on Jan. 29, Indonesian President Joko Widodo met with Ghani in Kabul. The brief visit followed Widodo and Kalla’s meeting with an Afghan High Peace Council delegation in November 2017. That delegation was on a visit to Indonesia to seek support for the Afghan peace process under the ulema’s guidance.