Taliban Needs to Respond to Needs of Afghans Or Face More Isolation, Poverty, Says Potzel

Wednesday, 09/28/2022

If the Taliban do not respond to the needs of all elements of Afghan society and constructively engage with the international community, it may lead to further fragmentation, isolation, poverty, and internal conflict, said Markus Potzel, senior UN envoy for Afghanistan.

“There are signals that the Taliban are indifferent to more than 50 per cent of the population,” he said referring to the ongoing ban on girls’ secondary education and growing restrictions on women’s rights and added, “Taliban are willing to risk international isolation. Such a scenario can lead to mass migration and a domestic environment conducive to terrorist organizations, as well as greater misery for the Afghan population. That’s why we have to engage,” he declared. He stated that “continued qualified engagement” was the most realistic way of helping the Afghan people.

Stressing that “patience is running out” for many in the international community when it comes to effectively engaging with Afghanistan’s de facto rulers, the Taliban, Potzel said that the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has monitored a steady rise in security incidents by terrorist groups and others.

“Our earlier warnings about the capabilities of Islamic State Khorosan Province (ISKP) were dismissed by the Taliban”, he told ambassadors.

“But ISKP has demonstrated in the last few months alone that it can carry out assassinations of figures close to the Taliban, attacks against foreign embassies, as well as fire rockets across Afghanistan’s border to attack its neighbours - all while maintaining its long-standing sectarian campaign against Shia Muslims and ethnic minorities,” said Potzel.

Armed clashes are continuing between Taliban security forces and armed opposition groups in the Panjshir, Baghlan, Kapisa, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces, the UN envoy continued while calling for an investigation into allegations of extra-judicial killings there.

Despite some positive developments over the past few months, the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan said that they have been “too few and too slow and they are outweighed by the negatives”.

Potzel stated that the per capita income has collapsed to 2007 levels – erasing 15 years of economic growth – and said that the country’s economic situation “remains tenuous”.

Moreover, a continued lack of political inclusivity and transparency in decision-making leave most Afghans without any government representation, he said. “There are no consistent mechanisms for citizens to provide feedback to the authorities and little indication that the Taliban wish to even hear any,” the UN envoy said.

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