Fallen Afghan government's envoy urges UN pressure on Taliban

Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, part of the Western-backed government that crumbled last month, on Thursday urged the world body to enforce sanctions on the Taliban whom he accused of possible war crimes.

Ghulam Isaczai, a US-educated former UN official who was part of ousted president Ashraf Ghani’s cabinet, remains the representative of Afghanistan at the world body despite the victorious Taliban’s announcement Tuesday of a government.

Addressing a Security Council session on his country, Isaczai urged nations not to recognize a Taliban government and to enforce existing UN sanctions on leaders named in the interim cabinet, including restrictions on their international travel.

Recent street protests — dispersed by the Islamist fighters who have since banned demonstrations — are “a strong message to the Taliban that Afghans of all backgrounds and creeds would not accept a totalitarian system imposed on them,” Isaczai said.

“I therefore ask you to withhold any recognition of any government in Afghanistan unless it’s truly inclusive and formed on the basis of free will of the people,” he said.

Any relaxation on travel bans “would be misused for the purpose of gaining international recognition for their new non-inclusive government,” he said.

He accused the Taliban of “widespread atrocities” in the Panjshir Valley, the last pocket of resistance in the insurgents’ rapid takeover as US troops withdrew.

“The Taliban continue to commit human rights violations, possibly war crimes, which have exacerbated the situation,” Isaczai said.

“They have performed targeted executions, cut off communication lines and imposed a humanitarian blockade which is preventing food supplies from entering profits.”

He said the Taliban were backed by “foreign terrorist fighters and foreign intelligence” — a likely reference to Pakistan, which clashed with the fallen government and backed the Islamists’ last regime in 1996-2001.

The ambassador also joined UN officials in calling for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, which is facing an economic crisis spurred by a cash crunch and sharp inflation just as foreign funding dries up and winter approaches.

“While the Taliban are celebrating their victory by shooting their guns in the air on the streets of Kabul, a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding,” he said.

Isaczai’s outspokenness mirrors that of the UN envoy from Myanmar, Kyaw Moe Tun, who has demanded action against military rulers who seized power in February and unsuccessfully tried to remove him.

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