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Cannot disengage with Taliban, UN chief says after Doha talks

2 May 2023 - 21:45
2 May 2023 - 21:45

KABUL (Pajhwok): A closed-door summit on Afghanistan ended Tuesday in Qatar, with the United Nations’ chief Antonio Guterres slamming the caretaker government’s “unprecedented” curbs on Afghan women’s rights.

Speaking at a press conference after the summit in Doha, Guterres said the Doha meeting was not about recognizing the new Afghan rulers, but about developing a common international approach to dealing with them.

Guterres said collectively all participants were worried about the stability of Afghanistan.

He stated “to achieve our objectives, we cannot disengage” with the Taliban and said “it is difficult to overestimate the gravity of the situation” in the country.

He noted that 97% of the population lived in poverty and that donor funding was drying up.

Guterres emphasized that the current ban on local women working for the United Nations in Afghanistan was unacceptable “and puts lives in jeopardy”.

“We will never be silent in the face of unprecedented and systemic attacks on women and girls’ rights,” said Guterres.

He added that “millions of women and girls are being silenced and erased from sight.” Guterres said the ban was a violation of Afghanistan’s “obligations under international law.”

The two-day meeting involved envoys from the United States, Russia, China and 20 other countries and organisations, including major European donors and neighbours such as Pakistan. The event also discussed fears over terrorism and drug trafficking in the South Asian nation.

The caretaker government has firmly rejected criticism of the curbs on women, calling them an “internal social issue”.

“Any meeting without the participation of IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) representatives — the main party to the issue — is unproductive and even sometimes counter-productive,” said the head of the Taliban political office in Doha, Suhail Shaheen.

“How can a decision taken at such meetings be acceptable or implemented while we are not part of the process? It is discriminatory and unjustified,” he said.

Suhail Shaheen told The Associated Press that the new Afghan government dismissed the talks.

“If they are not ready to hear us and know our position regarding the issues, how can they reach a convincing and palatable solution?” Shaheen said. “One-sided decisions couldn´t deliver. Afghanistan is an independent country. It has its own voice; we want them to listen to our voice.”

Shaheen on Sunday met Andrew McCoubrey, director of Afghanistan and Pakistan at the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office, and Yue Xiaoyong, China´s special envoy for Afghanistan, in Doha.

“As you know, the U.N. envoy has talks with government officials in Kabul, but when it comes to these sorts of conferences … we are not invited,” Shaheen added. “We think this is not the solution for Afghan issues and its outcome can´t be effective.”

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