Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari publishes a timely article in the Just Security on why "The World Should Protect Afghan Refugees Fleeing the Taliban's Oppresion." Almost 7 million Afghans have been driven out of their homes and Afghanistan by the interconnected challenges of imposed conflicts, ongoing violence, and growing poverty. He writes that "This is a lingering legacy of the 43-year wars that confronts the country where external aggression from its predatory neighborhood has resulted in non-stop violence and oppressive rule by the Taliban. Since August 2021 when they captured Kabul, the Taliban have continued to displace Afghans at home and drive others out of their beautiful homeland into far-flung places in search of protection and basic human security." 

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari publishes op-ed in the Deccan Herald on "The World Failed Afghans," discussing how the world watched with no action the fall of Afghanistan due to external aggression in gross violation of the UN Charter, under whose provisions Afghanistan's developing democracy and its 20-year hard-won gains in human and women's rights must have been saved. The Ambassador recommends that it is early for the world to reach consensus on reviving the country's dead peace process against the status quo.

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari publishes article in The National Interest Magazine on "Hell on Earth: Afghanistan Is Suffering Under the Taliban," analyzing the situation in the country one year since the fall of the Islamic Republic on August 15, 2021. 

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Defense One - October 27, 2021

Why the World Should Help Afghanistan

Taliban leaders have condemned Afghanistan to a perpetual humanitarian crisis with global consequences. Here’s what must be done.

Afghanistan is facing one of the most complex humanitarian crises of its recent history. It is a convergence of the past 40 years of imposed conflicts of geopolitics, endemic poverty, climate change, the global economic recession due to COVID-19, and chronic foreign aid dependency, now at 40 percent. Consequently, 14 million Afghans face severe hunger, 3.4 million children suffer from acute malnutrition, 22.8 million need immediate relief aid, and 97 percent of all Afghans live below the poverty line. 

Since Aug. 15, when the Taliban illegally and forcefully took over the government in Kabul, the humanitarian crisis has deteriorated further. Competent government employees have abandoned their jobs, leaving Afghanistan with an irreparable brain-drain. As a result, key service-delivery institutions no longer function and lack the resources to address the basic needs of an impoverishing population. The banking sector has ground to a halt and people are unable to withdraw their savings. Most international aid organizations and diplomatic missions have closed their development programs and evacuated their staff. 

Moreover, since Sept. 7 when the Taliban—following much factional infighting—announced their Pakistan-installed interim government, three key developments have proven most harmful to the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. Credible and abundant evidence shows that the Taliban and Pakistan are directly responsible for these harmful developments, daily claiming Afghan lives.

First, the Taliban’s formation of an all-male exclusionary interim cabinet, with half of its members sanctioned by the United Nations and one blacklisted by the FBI, led the United States to freeze $9.5 billion in the Afghan Central Bank’s reserves. Moreover, the International Monetary Fund has withheld $370 million in economic aid that was supposed to reach Afghanistan in August. 

Second, the Taliban’s enforcement of a gender apartheid—banning women from work and girls from education—has ensured an indefinite lack of international recognition, even from their own state sponsor. Afghanistan is the only one of the 190-plus member-states of the United Nations where women are banned from participation in polity, society, and economy—a situation where none of the globally adopted 2030 sustainable development goals could ever be achieved without women’s full inclusion and participation. Women’s education and health, of course, shape the overall health and economic productivity of any nation. Taliban leaders have effectively condemned Afghanistan to a perpetual humanitarian crisis. 

Third, the Taliban have already proven to be incapable of governing well, which is far more complex and difficult than carrying out suicide terrorist attacks, targeting innocent civilians, and destroying such soft targets as telephone towers, pylons, roads, and bridges. Over the past two months, they have learned that—unlike destroying—building, operating, and maintaining anything that is helpful takes the kind of technical competence and resources of which they have remorselessly deprived Afghanistan. 

The Taliban also has dismantled the country’s free press, which exacerbates the humanitarian situation. A country ravaged by conflict, climate, COVID, and poverty can hardly afford a lack of information that can help impoverished households decide on the right coping mechanisms and survival strategies to make it to the next day. 

Is this all part of Pakistan’s plan? Some observers of the region argue that the Taliban’s indifference to the dire humanitarian situation is by strategic design; that it is meant to serve a military objective of Pakistan by keeping Afghanistan aid-dependent and on the brink, thereby securing Pakistan deep influence over the Afghan politics. In other words, critics theorize, Pakistan is manufacturing and managing a perpetual humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, milking the international donor community for enough hand-out resources to prevent mass starvation in the country. Pakistan could prove these credible assumptions wrong by getting the Taliban leadership to form an inclusive and broad-based government that is acceptable to all Afghans, including women. But the world should not wait for Pakistani leaders to do the right thing. Neither should Afghans.

To start, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened a high-level ministerial conference on Afghanistan’s humanitarian situation in Geneva last month. Afghans were heartened that over 100 countries and 30 international and regional organizations generously pledged $1.2 billion in emergency funds, including $606 million for this year. But this is a Band-Aid approach. Considering the enormity of the challenges confronting Afghanistan—among them internal displacement, climate-induced floods and droughts, and the still unresolved pandemic—the pledge is hardly enough. 

That is why the leaders of UN Security Council member states must do all they can to move the ruling Taliban minority to reconcile with the rest of Afghanistan’s majority—including all ethnic groups, women, and youth—and allow them adequate and fair representation in a permanent government to be established soon. This could be achieved under the incomplete Doha peace process, which could resume under a robust UN mission with an operational and coercive mandate to enforce peace, if necessary. 

Unless this fundamental root cause of the widening humanitarian crisis is resolved, Afghanistan’s crises would only multiply, undermining regional stability and international peace and security.

Fortunately, the international community vividly recalls the consequences of neglecting Afghanistan’s challenges in the 1990s and the lessons of the past 20 years. The tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, and decades of related bombings and murders across the U.S. and Europe, must never be overlooked. Neither should the past six months of external aggression by proxies in Afghanistan. We must learn from the past 40 years of foreign involvement and interventions in Afghanistan and do what is right for the Afghan people.

Neither keeping Afghanistan on a humanitarian life-support nor abandoning it altogether is hardly the right solution. But working together under the UN auspices to help form an inclusive government that can look after the long-term protective and human security needs of the Afghan people constitutes a durable solution to the international problem in Afghanistan. And it is what the vast majority of the Afghan people need, demand, and deserve, following four decades of deadly and destructive imposed conflicts. 

Only the international community can help deliver on these basic Afghan expectations, and help us all toward regional stability and international peace and security. 

M. Ashraf Haidari is the ambassador of Afghanistan to Sri Lanka.

 

Statement of the Diplomatic Missions of Afghanistan: Marking One Year of the Taliban’s Military Takeover

August 15, 2022 

Today marks one year since the Taliban’s forced takeover and occupation of Afghanistan, which plunged the country into a deep political, economic, social, and humanitarian crisis. Afghan citizens are deprived of basic services and face grave human rights abuses and violations, poverty, repression, and fear. Almost overnight, the Taliban rolled back hard-won gains achieved through the joint effort and sacrifice of the people of Afghanistan and the international community since 2001.

Despite the violent and illegitimate nature of the Taliban takeover, they were offered the opportunity to deliver on expressed commitments in relation to the fundamental rights of all Afghans, especially women and girls, inclusive and representative governance, and other fundamental issues. many countries and international organizations adopted a policy of dialogue and engagement with the group, with the hope that such interaction would positively influence the Taliban’s approach and actions toward the people’s expectations.

One year on, the Taliban have comprehensively failed to deliver on all their commitments and re-enacted draconian policies and directives. Among others, the group has banned girls from attending secondary education and systematically erased women and girls from public life by restricting their fundamental right to work and play an active role in society. Preventing girls from education not only constitutes a grave human rights violation but also jeopardizes the country’s progress and future.

Deliberate and systemic targeting of Hazara and Shia Communities, arbitrary detentions, including of women activists, forced disappearances and forced displacements, collective punishment, media crackdowns, extra-judicial killings, and torture, including of former members of the national security forces and government officials constitute normal practices under Taliban rule. These and other measures have perpetuated a climate of absolute fear and physical and psychological insecurity, forcing hundreds of thousands of Afghans to leave the country.

The Taliban have rejected consistent national and international appeals for the creation of an inclusive and representative government, which is a critical need for political stability and strengthening national trust in the country. Various political actors, from across different social, ethnic and political spectrums have stood ready to engage in dialogue to reach a political understanding and consensus. However, the Taliban, as underlined in their manifesto released in May 2022 which rejects any kind of people-based government, remain defiant on the continuation of their exclusive and repressive rule against the desire and demands of the absolute majority of the Afghan people and the international community, pushing the country on a dangerous trajectory.

Several known international and regional terrorist and extremist groups have found a re-invigorated presence in Afghanistan. The killing of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, leader of Al-Qaeda in Kabul, affirmed that the Taliban are hosting and sheltering a coterie of foreign terrorist groups which are threatening the security and stability of Afghanistan, our region, and the wider world.

We believe that given the Taliban’s unwillingness and inability to deliver on their expressed commitments, and the deteriorating security, economic, political, and social situation in Afghanistan, the international community should adopt a new and adjusted approach. To improve and stabilize the situation such an approach could include the following:

  • Establish effective forms of engagement at bilateral and multilateral fora in order to influence the group to respond to the demands of the people for a political process leading to inclusive and legitimate governance, and to address the benchmarks contained in the UN Resolution 2513 and part II of the Doha Agreement that stresses the importance of reactivating the intra-Afghan talks, Afghanistan’s future will have to include the Taliban, but not be determined and dominated by them.
  • Engage and work with committed personalities of integrity who enjoy support from democratic constituencies. The people of Afghanistan are still determined to improve the situation and assume control of their future destiny. Experience shows that no system can survive in our diverse society without respecting and embracing the will of the people.
  • Adopt more coordinated and effective measures to address the dangerous threat emanating from the establishment of an Islamic Emirate that could be applied outside Afghanistan, and the presence of various foreign terrorist groups, which constitute a major constitutes a major security threat for Afghanistan, our region, and the wider world.
  • Implement the UN travel ban for all the Taliban leaders, knowing they use freedom of movement – which they deny to over half of our population – to deepen ties with terrorist networks and obtain legitimacy from rouge states against Afghans.
  • Enhancing humanitarian assistance to meet the urgent need of the Afghan people.
  • Redouble support for the preservation of the fundamental human rights of the people of Afghanistan, including the protection of the rights of women, girls, and other vulnerable groups

The diplomatic missions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will continue to fulfill our historic responsibility at this crucial juncture in our nation’s life by representing the concerns, demands, and aspirations of millions of our voiceless compatriots. We remain firmly committed to meeting the needs of our growing and vibrant diaspora community including by providing continued consular services. We further remain committed to working closely with the host countries, friends of Afghanistan, and our diaspora community and contributing however possible to ongoing international efforts to achieve a peaceful, stable, and democratic Afghanistan in which the rights, honor, dignity, and will of our people are upheld.

We express our gratitude to the international community for their continued commitment to the people of Afghanistan at this difficult point in time in our nation’s history.

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Statement of Diplomatic Missions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan

July 27, 2022

The diplomatic missions of Afghanistan welcome and appreciate the strong and unified message conveyed by the international community at the Tashkent International Conference on Afghanistan, which took place from 26-27 July 2022, on the Taliban having to reverse their approach and policies that have thus far violated the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Afghans, resulted in the discrimination of women and girls and other segments of society, disruption of public services, and which have deepened political, social and economic instability in the country.

We also welcome the strong emphasis made on the crucial need for effective and inclusive governance, by virtue of the formation of a broad-based government that’s able to reflect the rich diversity of Afghanistan which all Afghans value and take pride in, and to garner and strengthen national trust and unity as a crucial need to improve and stabilize the political, economic, security and humanitarian situation in the country.

This once gain reflects the continued and strong international consensus which exists on having to reach a political settlement to the unresolved conflict in Afghanistan. Such a settlement requires an inclusive national dialogue that is conducted by the people of Afghanistan and supported by the international community.

Moreover, it is evidently clear that any government in Afghanistan will only be deemed and recognized as legitimate, nationally and internationally, if it is based on and able to reflect the will of the Afghan people. To this end, we believe any contractual understanding or agreement with the Taliban on economic, trade and other issues will be void of credibility and therefore unable to meet the long-term interests of relevant parties.

While non-Taliban political groups were not invited to and present at the Tashkent Conference due to reservations by the Taliban, we believe it will be essential that future such gatherings on Afghanistan include the presence of Afghanistan’s democratic political forces and civil society in order to reflect the true wishes, demands and aspirations of the people, aimed at achieving a peaceful, stable and democratic Afghanistan that is free from terrorism and violent extremism and able to advance the shared values between the people of Afghanistan and the international community.

We once again convey our gratitude to the international community for its continued focus, attention and support for the people of Afghanistan.

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Statement of the Diplomatic Missions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on the Devastating Earthquake in Paktika and Khost Provinces of Afghanistan 

June 22, 2022

Since last night, several provinces in Afghanistan have been struck by a devastating earthquake and its strong tremors. The provinces of Paktika and Khost have been affected the most, as they have already suffered from a series of natural disasters, severe droughts, and a dire lack of critical infrastructure. Paktika is one of the most remote provinces in Afghanistan, an area that has seen much devastation and suffering in previous years.

The earthquake has killed over 800 people and injured hundreds of others. Most of the casualties are reported to be in the Barmal, Zirok, Gayan and Nika districts in Paktika, where some villages in Gayan have been destroyed.

In national mourning the losses of this massive tragedy, the flag of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at all its Diplomatic Missions shall be flown at half-mast until sunset on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

The Diplomatic Missions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan call for the generous support of all countries, international organizations, individuals, and foundations to provide and deliver urgent humanitarian aid, including critically needed supplies, to thousands of survivors of the earthquake in Afghanistan.

We extend our deepest condolences to the victims’ families and to all, who have been affected by this devastating earthquake.

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Statement of the Diplomatic Missions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on the Recent War Crimes and Human Rights Violations by the Taliban Forces

 May 11, 2022

The May 9 and 10, 2022 witnessed summary executions, hostage-takings, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment of innocent civilians, including women and children, by the Taliban forces in the province of Panjshir, the Andarab district of Baghlan province, and the Warsaj district of Takhar province. At the time of releasing this statement, the graphic evidence suggests that these atrocities constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. We condemn in the strongest terms possible these crimes, including the systematic targeting, mass arrest and torturing of women, children and elders of these particular communities.

Enjoying an atmosphere of impunity, the Taliban have only intensified their extremist, oppressive, and barbaric rule, one characterized by broken promises, international obligations—which they have failed to uphold—as well as a disturbing pattern of misogyny, ethnic hatred, violence and terror. Recalling international experience on the past atrocities, failures and painful lessons, the international community must not allow these ongoing tragic events to set the course of future reaction in Afghanistan, nor must it allow Taliban’s tyrannical regime to become a reference point for other violent extremist groups around the world.

The war crimes and widespread human rights violations repeatedly committed by the Taliban need not only unequivocal condemnation but also the immediate application of preventive and accountability measures. The time for overlooking, silence, and impunity has passed. Hence, we reiterate our early calls on the international community as a whole, and, in particular, on the relevant institutions and mechanisms of the United Nations (UN), including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan, to pay special attention to and report on these crimes, violations and to provide concrete recommendations for improving the situation on the ground.

In this light, we further call on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to fulfil its mandate by investigating and holding individual perpetrators, their command chain and leaders accountable so that further crimes are prevented in the future. We also ask the UN Human Rights Council to step up its roles for prevention and accountability, including setting up a commission of inquiry to investigate all such atrocities. We particularly urge UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to explore the possibility of sending a UN fact-finding mission to Afghanistan for a thorough investigation into specific cases of war crimes and summary executions of unarmed civilians, as well as speaking to the victimized communities across Afghanistan.

In addition to the gross nature of the Taliban’s human rights violations, the group’s actions stoke internal and ethnic tensions in the country, undermining the imperative of building the needed trust and confidence for a negotiated political settlement to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan. Thus, we call on the Taliban to immediately reverse course and choose the path of dialogue and negotiations instead of continued barbarity and brutality to end the conflict. This must be done through an inclusive political settlement that adheres to the will of the people, leading to a sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan.

We extend our deepest condolences to the victims’ families and loved ones, as well as to our compatriots inside Afghanistan and around the world. We firmly remain committed to using all available channels to highlight and report any atrocities and human rights violations committed by the Taliban, while helping facilitate preventive and accountability action.

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Statement of the Diplomatic Missions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on the Bombardment of Afghanistan’s Territory by Pakistani Military Forces

17 April 2022

The Diplomatic Missions of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan condemn in strongest terms the aerial bombardment of Afghanistan’s territory by the military forces of Pakistan on April 16, 2022, which resulted in the loss of lives of more than forty innocent civilians, including women and children, the destruction of public property and displacement of the local population.

The attack represents a clear and grave breach of Afghanistan’s territorial integrity, international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights law and other principles of the UN Charter. Saturday’s attack and violation was the latest in a consistent pattern of such incidents, which unfortunately have continued unabated over the past several years and have come in various forms, including shellings, construction of military checkpoints and unilateral fencing of territories.

The Government of the Islamic Republic had, on several occasions, presented detailed information on various aspects of these incidents to the Security Council of the United Nations with the hope and expectation of appropriate action being taken to bring about an end to such violations. The latest attack reaffirms the need for clear and decisive measures by the UN Security Council and the international community at large to effectively address this outstanding issue.

We also unequivocally and without distinction condemn all acts of terrorism by all terrorist and violent extremist groups and consider them to be an as an existential threat to all States and societies in our region and beyond.

The diplomatic missions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan remain firmly committed to upholding Afghanistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, national values, and helping ensure that the will of the people in relation to the restoration of a democratic, sovereign, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is upheld.

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Colombo: - Read a detailed report by Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari for the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), discussing "The Long Road to Finding an End to Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Crisis." The report analyzes the history of humanitarian crises, which Afghanistan has faced over the course of its history. It argues that the current man-made humanitarian crisis cannot be addressed, unless its root-causes are addressed.

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