Friday, May 27, 2022

Taliban PM calls for Muslim nations to recognise Afghan government

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The Taliban’s prime minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund called Wednesday on Muslim nations to be the first to officially recognise their government, as aid-dependent Afghanistan faces economic collapse.

No country has yet recognised the Taliban.

“I call on Muslim countries to take the lead and recognise us officially. Then I hope we will be able to develop quickly,” Mohammad Hassan Akhund told a conference in Kabul called to address the country’s massive economic woes.

“We don’t want it for the officials. We want it for our public,” he said, adding that the Taliban had fulfilled all necessary conditions by restoring peace and security.

Afghanistan is in the grip of a humanitarian disaster, worsened by the Taliban takeover in August that prompted Western countries to freeze international aid and access to billions of dollars worth of assets held abroad.

The country was almost entirely dependent on foreign aid under the previous US-backed government, but jobs have dried up and most civil servants haven’t been paid for months.

On Wednesday, the International Labour Organization said half a million Afghans lost their jobs in the third quarter of 2021, and this was expected to rise to 900,000 by the middle of this year — with women disproportionately affected.

With poverty deepening and a drought devastating farming in many areas, the United Nations has warned that half the 38 million population faces food shortages.

The UN Security Council last month unanimously adopted a US resolution to allow some aid to reach desperate Afghans without violating international sanctions.

But there are growing calls from rights groups and aid organisations for the West to release more funds — particularly in the middle of a harsh winter.

“Our situation still depends on the Americans. It will only get better if they decide to stop the sanctions,” said Mohammad Moktar Nasseri, a former police officer who now sells vegetables at a Kabul market.

The Taliban veteran was a close associate and political advisor to Mullah Omar, the founder of the movement and its first supreme leader.

Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi told Wednesday’s conference that the government “would not sacrifice the independence of the country’s economy by bending to the conditions of donors”.

Last month a meeting of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) declined to formally recognise the government, and the new regime’s foreign minister was excluded from the official photograph taken during the event.

But the OIC did pledge to work with the United Nations to try to unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen Afghan assets, while urging Taliban rulers to abide by international obligations regarding the rights of women.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the only nations to recognise the first Taliban government after they came to power in 1996 following a civil war.

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