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UN Security Council set to pick envoy for Afghanistan despite Taliban’s protests

UN chief Guterres has clarified the need to have ‘clear consultations’ with the Taliban to understand the special envoy’s role

Arpan Rai
Monday 26 February 2024 12:27 GMT
Afghanistan: Taliban storm into Afghanistan’s Kunduz

The United Nations Security Council is likely to discuss the appointment of a special envoy for Afghanistan on Monday despite the Taliban’s refusal to have an international representative for the war-torn nation.

In a closed-door meeting, the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres will share a report on the appointment of a special envoy for Afghanistan and the recent international meeting on Afghanistan in Doha, said Naseer Ahmed Faiq, Chargé d’Affaires of the Afghanistan Permanent Mission to the UN.

The Taliban regime in Afghanistan is seeking international recognition for its own officials and denies the need for a diplomat selected by the UN to speak on issues concerning Afghanistan.

Speaking at the UN-sponsored talks in Doha last week, Mr Guterres had clarified the need to have “clear consultations” with the Taliban to understand the envoy’s role and who it could be to “make it attractive” from their point of view.

It was in the Taliban’s interests to be part of the consultations, Mr Guterres had argued last Monday.

However, the Taliban threw up last-minute objections and did not attend the meeting, ostensibly over the presence of Afghan civil society members who are not a part of the Islamist group.

The Doha meeting included representatives from the US, China, Pakistan and the European Union had reached a "total consensus" on proposals from a UN independent assessment on Afghanistan, Mr Guterres said.

He added that the assessment recommended the appointment of a UN special envoy – a proposal backed by Western nations but rejected by the Taliban authorities.

Zabiullah Mujahid, the chief spokesperson of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan claimed that the war-battered nation is not in crisis and it does not need a new representative with the existing presence of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) in the country.

“As for the special representative, the position of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [the Taliban’s name for the country] is very clear and there is no need to appoint a special representative for Afghanistan,” he said.

Mr Mujahid claimed: “Afghanistan is a secure country and does not suffer from any crisis and needs international cooperation, but within the framework of the cooperation that existed before. In the presence of UNAMA, all issues between the United Nations and Afghanistan will be resolved.”

While no country formally recognises the Taliban government in Afghanistan, informal backing for it has increased from a number of regional powers including China and central Asian nations, for whom the country is an important trade and infrastructure partner.

The international community and Western nations in particular are refusing to provide validation to a regime that has enforced a blanket ban on education and work for women and girls. Mr Guterres said the Doha meeting participants agreed it was essential to revoke these restrictions.

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