By Ateet Sharma
New Delhi, Sep 11: Protesters in Tajikistan, furious at Pakistani interference in Afghanistan, are seeking Imran Khan's boycott during the upcoming summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the Tajik capital Dushanbe.
The Pakistani Prime Minister is one of the invitees to the SCO summit, which is likely to be overshadowed by the chaos in Afghanistan following the Taliban's takeover of Kabul on August 15. The Tajik have been incensed after Pakistani ISI chief, Faiz Hameed landed in Kabul to steer the aerial assault against ethnic Tajiks who had mounted an anti-Taliban resolve in the famed Panjshir valley.
Unsurprisingly, as the Tajik capital gets ready to host the all-important SCO Council of Heads of State meeting starting September 16, the country's civil society groups have urged the Emomali Rahmon-led government to stop Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan from attending it.
On Friday, the Tajik civil society urged the country's authorities to postpone Khan's visit to Dushanbe "until Pakistan refuses to interfere in Afghanistan's internal affairs" and an inclusive government is not created in Kabul.
The anti-Pakistan sentiment has only grown stronger since the Taliban unleashed a Pakistan-backed military operation to decimate the resistance mounted by Ahmad Masood, former Afghanistan Vice President Amrullah Saleh and their Tajik fighters in northern Afghanistan's Panjshir valley.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the civil society group said that the Taliban has proven to be a puppet of Pakistan and needs Islamabad to destroy its opponents.
"We categorically condemn Pakistan's intervention in Afghanistan's internal affairs, especially Pakistan's military aircraft involvement in the bombing of Panjshir residents," Dushanbe's Avesta News Agency quoted from the social media post.
"We believe that these days and nights, when the hearts of millions of Tajikistanis are bleeding because of the killing of people in Kabul and Panjshir, the upcoming visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to Dushanbe, his meeting in Tajikistan is unwanted," the statement added.
The appeal has been signed by the country's leading human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, philosophers, historians and public activists.
It includes names like Oynihol Bobonazarova - one of Tajikistan's most well-known human rights activists who has also fought the country's presidential election - and noted filmmaker Anisa Sabiri.
In its open address, the Tajik civil society urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan to postpone the visit of Pakistani PM to Dushanbe until Pakistan rejects political and military support of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the issue is discussed at the UN and an inclusive government is formed in the neighbouring country.
"In our opinion, Tajikistan and other countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are obliged to establish a special commission and send it to Panjshir and other regions of Afghanistan to investigate the facts about Pakistan intervention and ethnic cleansing of the local population," the appeal mentions.
The group said that the collected evidence of the crimes committed by the Taliban and the Pakistani Army, especially in Panjshir, should then be sent to relevant international organisations, in particular the UN.
"Unfortunately, the launch of a large-scale operation of the Pakistani army against the Afghan People's Resistance Front in Panjshir, the genocide of Tajiks, the suppression of the women's uprising in Kabul and Herat, and the creation of a Nazi Taliban government in Kabul, although considered temporary, indicates the existence of the earlier developed Taliban scenario. It has now become the subject of extreme concern for the world community and neighbouring countries of Afghanistan," the activists noted.
Civil society groups, which have played an important role in Tajikistan's growth and development over the last couple of decades, now fear that the current situation in Afghanistan could lead to a protracted Afghan civil war and instability in Central Asia.
As reported by the India Narrative earlier, Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon had last month conveyed to the visiting Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Dushanbe's extreme displeasure over Pakistan-backed Taliban backstabbing other ethnic groups of Afghanistan.
Rahmon had told Qureshi that the Tajiks have "a worthy place" in the future government of Afghanistan and Dushanbe will not recognize any other regime that will be formed "through oppression", without taking into account the position of the entire Afghan people, especially all its national minorities.
This was, of course, much before the bloody Sunday (September 5) when Pakistani drones, helicopters and special forces allegedly launched a joint operation with the Taliban fighters to crush Tajiks in Panjshir.
With not just Tajikistan but even Russia and Iran fuming with anger after the Panjshir bloodbath, it is Imran Khan's turn to run for cover now.
(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)