Afghanistan out of the UN General Assembly?

The previous ambassador of Afghanistan, Ghulam Isaczai, would not participate in the General assembly debate.

He used to represent the Ashraf Ghani government, which led Afghanistan in the last two decades.

Since the Taliban has now taken over, no country recognises this government. What course will this move cause for the already volatile Afghanistan, and what consequences will this absence mean?

The Refusal and its Reasons

The Ghani government has been ousted, and the Taliban has officially taken control. The portfolio of the members of the new government has also been released.

The foreign minister of the Taliban nominated Suhail Shaheen to address the assembly. These tensions reached a new level when the UN decided not to include the war-torn country in this year’s body.

The secretary of the UN, Antonio Guterres, received a letter stating that President Ghani had been ‘ousted’ signed by Muttaqi.

UN then thought it was wise not to include Isaczai or Taliban backed Shaheen in the assembly. Journalists worldwide had pungent reactions as there would be no official statement on an international platform from the country.

 Ghulam Isaczau vs Suhail Shaheen

Ghulam M. Isaczai was appointed in June 2021 as the Ambassador and permanent representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan amid talks of the USA withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.

Isaczai who is 25 years of experience in issues concerning human rights and conflict resolution.

He has a list of academia, an MA in public International Law from Fletcher School of Law and diplomacy, a BSc in Business Administration from Midland University, a diploma in human rights from Jones International University.

He has completed coursework on negotiations and conflict resolution from Harvard University.

He can speak Pashto Farsi and English fluently and has basic Urdu, Hindi, Turkish languages. 

Suhail Shaheen is the official spokesperson of the reigning Taliban government and was the editor of the English language state-owned Afghan newspaper, Jabul Time, from 1996 to 2001. His alma mater is the International Islamic University, Islamabad.

His fiery statements in his official address about raising his voice for oppressed Muslims worldwide brought him to the immediate limelight.

He mentioned Kashmir but carefully left out the Xinjiang region of China and Chechnya of Russia; hinted at the Taliban and China’s possible friendship.

UN’s History With the Taliban

Between 1996 and 2001, the UN had refused to acknowledge the Taliban government and give Afghanistan’s seat to the previous government of the president, Rabbani.

This history is also why people expected Ghulam Isaczai to address the UN, but after 20 years, the situation has changed, and the UN is moving cautiously.

Taliban’s statements have been equivocal, to say the least, demanding International recognition, financial help on one side and continuing rifle rule on the other.

This fence-sitting by the Taliban posed a dilemma for international platforms; several ministers of the Taliban government are declared terrorists. So it would not be appropriate to call them diplomats or delegates.

Similarity to China?

In 1949, China, a permanent member of the United Nations, was denied representation due to the communist revolution.

Instead, the seat was given to the losing Nationalist government in Taiwan until 1971, when the assembly voted to expel it and acknowledge the communist government of Beijing.

There are speculations that both China and Pakistan may raise the issue of Taliban in the body.

But with many countries already targeting belligerent China, everything is unpredictable. It is interesting to note that China was the first to identify and offer $31 million in aid to Afghanistan. 

Human Rights of the Citizens of Afghanistan 

The Taliban tried to project a clean image initially, but that has been nothing but a sham, according to Amnesty International, the International Federation of human rights and the World Organisation Against Torture.

In just five weeks, the ideology of radical Taliban has been stripped bare, whether it be statements of women not being allowed to play sports or orthodox religious ideas.

Had Shaheen been to the General assembly, he would have faced severe criticism on human rights.

Between 1996 and 2001 Taliban was tainted by rights abuses against ethnic minorities and curves and the education and financial empowerment of women.

Taliban is now accused of muzzling the Herat demonstration by unlawful means. This order was by Sirajuddin Haqqani, another minister of the government, blocked by the UN.

It is disappointing that Afghanistan would not be represented in the UN, but that does not mean it would not be discussed on the International platform.

While most countries are sympathetic towards the ousted Ghani government, some nations extend support to the Taliban.

The rights and problems of the ordinary people of Afghanistan will be debated, not in their own words this year but spoken nevertheless.

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