JAKARTA: Representatives of Afghanistan’s Taliban government travelled to Indonesia earlier this month on an unofficial visit, the foreign ministry in Jakarta said today, despite Kabul saying they held meetings with politicians in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.
The Taliban administration that took back power in August 2021 is trying to shore up recognition of its rule across the Islamic world, including courting Indonesia to boost political and economic ties.
But Indonesia has not recognised the legitimacy of the Afghan Taliban government since it resumed its rule two decades after US-led forces toppled their regime.
“My understanding is that they were in Jakarta informally for internal matters with the Afghanistan mission here,” Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah told AFP.
He said the visit could not be described as a delegation as that could imply “some sort of formality”.
But the Afghan deputy foreign ministry spokesman Hafiz Zia Ahmad tweeted on July 14 that one of the government’s top diplomats led a “delegation” to Indonesia.
“The delegation held useful meetings and discussions with some scholars, politicians and businessmen in Indonesia for strengthening bilateral political and economic relations,” he wrote.
The official did not disclose which Indonesian politicians met with the Afghan delegation.
Faizasyah said there were no official meetings between Afghan and Indonesian government officials.
Relations between the two Muslim-majority nations have long been based on religious solidarity and in 2018 President Joko Widodo visited his then-Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani, the leader who fled as the Taliban took control of Kabul.
Ahmad in his tweet said Afghan representatives also met with diplomats from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Singapore while in the Indonesian capital.
The Taliban government is not officially recognised by any country or world body, and only a handful of nations have a presence in Afghanistan.
Jakarta reopened its embassy in Kabul last year after closing following the Taliban takeover.
In recent months, Taliban authorities have shuttered women’s beauty parlours and carried out at least two public executions as they move to fully implement all aspects of their interpretation of sharia law.
A report to the UN’s Human Rights Council last month by special Afghanistan rapporteur Richard Bennett said the country’s rulers may be “responsible for gender apartheid”, exacerbating the plight of women and girls under its austere version of law.