A consultative meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbours and other regional states, including China and India, has asked the Taliban government to prevent the country from being “a terrorism and instability hotspot” – an endorsement of concerns Pakistan has been raising. The demand came in the declaration issued after the conclusion of the fifth meeting of the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan at the level of special representatives and senior officials from China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan was held in the Russian city of Kazan. The meeting was also attended by Afghanistan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. Representatives of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Türkiye were in attendance as guests of honour. In a statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry, the parties noted with concern the difficult security situation in Afghanistan due to the intensification of the activities of terrorist groups, primarily Daesh. While appreciating the current Afghan authorities for their serious fight against Daesh, the participants urged them to do the same against all terrorist groups. They also called on the current Afghan authorities to take effective measures to dismantle, eliminate and prevent the placement of all sorts of terrorist groups based in Afghanistan and to prevent the country from being a terrorism and instability hotspot and spreading to the regional states. The meeting stressed the Taliban rulers to step up cooperation with the regional countries in the fight against the threats of terrorism and drug trafficking emanating from the Afghan territory – a demand Pakistan has been making amid a sharp rise in militancy carried out by banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). “Most participants stressed their opposition to the support for terrorism in Afghanistan by external forces,” the statement said. The countries regretted that there had been no progress in forming a truly inclusive government in Afghanistan, reflecting the interests of all ethno-political groups of the country. Despite the appointment of some individual representatives of various Afghan ethnicities to the Kabul administration, the parties observed no political pluralism in it. They urged the Kabul authorities to establish a practical, outcome-oriented dialogue with the representatives of alternative ethnopolitical groups to complete the process of peaceful settlement and forge a balanced, more broad-based, inclusive, accountable and responsible government in Afghanistan. In order to improve the welfare of the Afghan people, prevent their further migration and provide conditions for the return of the refugees, the Taliban set-up was urged to provide the necessary conditions. The participants also spoke out for respect of fundamental rights and freedoms in Afghanistan, including equal rights to work, education and justice, without distinction as to gender, ethnicity or religion. While expressing concern about restrictions imposed on women’s employment and girls’ education, the meeting urged Afghanistan rulers to promote modern education in the schools conforming to international standards. The Moscow Format urged the Western nations, which it held responsible for the current crisis in the war-torn country, to recognise and shoulder their responsibility for post-conflict reconstruction of the country, unfreeze Afghan assets and lift unilateral sanctions, immediately. The parties also advocated for Afghanistan as an independent, united and peaceful state. They underscored the unacceptability of the deployment of military infrastructure facilities of third countries in Afghanistan and its neighbouring states under any pretext. Without directly mentioning the US, the parties reaffirmed the opposition to attempts at politicising humanitarian assistance and highlighted the importance of continuing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.