UN envoy: Engagement with Taliban must continue despite row

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The top UN envoy for Afghanistan said Tuesday that engagement with the Afghan Taliban by the international community must continue in some form.

“Afghans want continued engagement from the international community and believe that it is only through increased interaction with the authorities that positive change can take place,” said Roza Otunbayeva, the UN secretary-general’s special representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

“Under current conditions, however, donors are increasingly unwilling to look beyond the provision of humanitarian assistance. As long as girls remain excluded from school and the de facto authorities continue to disregard other stated concerns of the international community, we remain at something of an impasse,” she said. “

Meanwhile she added that there are some positive developments in Afghanistan, in particular on the economic front.

Overall levels of corruption are significantly down after the Taliban takeover. The significant reduction in state corruption as announced the collection of more revenues in the first 10 months of 2022 than the Republic of Afghanistan government collected in 2021 and 2020, despite an economic contraction of 20 percent in 2021, she said.

While the Taliban’s economic management has been more effective than expected, it should also be recognized that international donors continue to feed more than half of the population. The cash payments required to deliver humanitarian assistance indirectly inject liquidity into the economy. Without this assistance, the picture in Afghanistan would be far bleaker, said Otunbayeva.

Although she added that Taliban remain essentially in control of the country, and there is no significant visible political opposition inside Afghanistan. The exiled politicians of the previous government are only vocal critics so the Taliban rejects the need for any sort of intra-Afghan dialogue and claim that their government is sufficiently representative.

UNAMA continues to push at all levels for wider consultation and representation, and believes that the only way forward for Afghanistan is through a more pluralistic polity, where all Afghans, especially women and minorities, see themselves represented and have a real voice in decision-making.—afghanistantimes