Pakistan says former Afghan government envoy to UN should step down
Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Friday that the ousted Afghan government’s ambassador to the United Nations had no status and that his seat in the 193-member organization should remain vacant for the time being.
Although he does not approve of the Taliban’s request for representation at the UN, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said in an interview with the New York Times that he had seen signs of improvement in stability in Afghanistan since the US withdrawal almost a month ago after 20 years of war and occupation.
He further said that to his surprise, there had been no signs of a feared descent into the civil war in Afghanistan following the Taliban victory – at least not yet. Pakistan has also not seen an influx of Afghan citizens cross the border, he said, recalling that Pakistan is already hosting millions of refugees following the protracted unrest in its western neighbor. “We don’t have the capacity to absorb more,” he said.
Although Pakistan has erected a security fence along the porous border with Afghanistan, Qureshi said that “the border is open for the time being” and that “due to this improvement in the situation, the people started to back down “.
Yet Mr. Qureshi admitted the possibility that a humanitarian and economic collapse in Afghanistan remains a real threat.
Mr. Qureshi, who attended the United Nations General Assembly this week, told The Times not only about the crisis in neighboring Afghanistan, but also about US relations with his own country.
Although US and Afghan officials accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban insurgency, Qureshi described Pakistan as a “supporting ally” of the United States – both during the US-led war. in Afghanistan and the abrupt withdrawal of the United States. Any idea that Pakistan was working against the United States, Mr. Qureshi said, was wrong.
Mr. Qureshi spoke as a diplomatic drama intensified over who, if any, would speak for Afghanistan during the week-long program of annual speeches to the General Assembly, which ends Monday. The last slot on the list is currently reserved for Afghanistan.
The ambassador of the overthrown government, Ghulam M. Isaczai, remains Afghanistan’s officially recognized envoy to the United Nations. But the Taliban have demanded that Suhail Shaheen, spokesperson for the militant movement in Doha, Qatar, replace Mr. Isaczai and be allowed to address the General Assembly.
Mr Qureshi said it remains to be seen whether the Taliban’s request is justified. But he also said that Mr Isaczai’s right to represent Afghanistan at the United Nations was untenable because his government had collapsed and its president, Ashraf Ghani, had fled abroad.
“Who is he speaking for?” Mr. Qureshi asked about Mr. Isaczai. The best short-term solution for the UN headquarters in Afghanistan, Qureshi said, is to “keep it empty”.
He also rejected the idea of even talking to Mr. Isaczai. ” What’s the point ? ” he said. “For me, it is useless.
Mr Isaczai, who has kept a relatively low profile in recent weeks, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Understanding the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan
Who are the Taliban? The Taliban emerged in 1994 amid the unrest that followed the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989. They used brutal public punishments, including flogging, amputations and mass executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s more on their origin story and their record as leaders.
When asked who could speak for Afghanistan on Monday, Stéphane Dujarric, the UN chief spokesperson, said in an email message that “for now, the representative of Afghanistan on the list for Monday is HE Mr. Ghulam M. Isaczai “.
The question of who should be Afghanistan’s legitimate representative to the United Nations must be considered by the General Assembly’s Credentials Committee, a nine-member group that includes China, Russia and the United States. . He shouldn’t bring it up until October or later.
Although Pakistan is not on the committee, Mr. Qureshi’s perspective on the issue is important as his country is one of Afghanistan’s most influential neighbors, with a significant impact on its trajectory under the Taliban control.
The UN Security Council, the organization’s most powerful organ, said the Taliban must form an inclusive government, protect the rights of women, girls and minorities, prevent terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a base, allow the free flow of humanitarian aid and allow the exit of all those who wish to leave.
Mr. Qureshi said that the Afghan Taliban leadership “is not ignoring” the expectations of the international community regarding their behavior.
“Obviously, they will be judged,” he said. “I think they are starting to understand.”