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Friday, December 3, 2021

Taliban appoints envoy to handle western embassies in Doha: Reuters


While countries have yet to recognise the new interim Afghan government, they have taken steps to engage with the Taliban in efforts to tackle a looming humanitarian crisis.

The interim Taliban-led Afghan government sent envoys to run Afghanistan’s embassies in Qatar, Pakistan and the UAE, senior sources from the group told Reuters on Saturday.

According to the news agency, Mohammad Shokaib was appointed as the first secretary or charge d’affaires at the embassy in Islamabad.

Shokaib would be the first Afghan envoy in the Pakistani capital since the former Ashraf Ghani administration withdrew its diplomats from the country in July over an alleged kidnapping of then-ambassador Najib Alikhil’s daughter.

Taliban officials hold meetings with US, other world powers in Doha

The new envoy will not be Afghanistan’s formal ambassador, but will take care of the embassy in Islamabad as it does not officially recognise the new interim government.

A spokesman from the Pakistani foreign ministry said that the move comes as part of efforts to ensure consular operations continue in the country.

“There are millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and there are visa issues as well,” he said, as quoted by Reuters.

The Pakistani official also said two other Afghan envoys were appointed to run embassies in Quetta and Peshawar, areas located near two major border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“We understand that Pakistan has not yet recognised us as a legitimate government but we made these arrangements for public facilitations,” a senior Taliban leader told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, two other Taliban officials in the foreign affairs and interior ministries confirmed that similar appointments had been made in Qatar and the UAE.

The two Gulf nations have helped the Taliban resume civilian operations at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport since foreign troops withdrew from Afghanistan in late August. They’ve also sent aid to the crises-ridden country.

Since 2014, Qatar has also hosted the Taliban’s political office while recently facilitating the Afghan peace process. Doha has also held talks between the militants and the US, which ended in the signing of the February accord last year.

Meanwhile, former Afghan President Ghani is now based in the UAE after fleeing the Taliban takeover in August.

Speaking to BBC Presenter and Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet last week, a member of Afghanistan’s negotiating team suggested Ghani fled despite a lack of a serious threat to the Presidential Palace in Kabul.

“I don’t know why he [former President Ghani] ran away…there was no shooting, no Taliban. That day the palace was the safest place in Afghanistan,” said Matin Bek.

Speaking at the Global Security Forum [GSF] in Doha earlier this month, a top Qatari envoy said the Afghan peace process would have continued in Qatar if Ghani did not leave.

“The world was caught by surprise when the former president of Afghanistan fled the country,” said Qatar’s Special Envoy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani.

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