Taliban's track record clouds promises of safety for diplomatic missions

By Sulaiman


A guard secures an entrance near the Australian embassy at the Green Zone in Kabul on May 25, after Australia abruptly announced plans to shutter its embassy in Afghanistan that week over security fears. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

KABUL -- The Taliban's track record of violence and broken promises undermines the group's assurances of a safe environment for foreign diplomats and international aid workers on diplomatic missions, say observers.

On May 26, Mohammad Naeem, the spokesman for the Taliban political office in Qatar, assured all foreign diplomats and staff of humanitarian organisations that the Taliban would not pose any threat to them.

The Taliban, however, have a worrisome track record of dealing with diplomats and foreign aid workers in Afghanistan, and on May 28, Australia, citing security concerns, announced it was closing its embassy.

There are signs more countries will follow suit.

"These countries think that ... they will be targeted and at risk," said Ainuddin Bek, a political analyst in Kabul, adding the Taliban's promises are just a manoeuvre to gain legitimacy.

The Taliban have deliberately been targeting foreign aid workers, foreign doctors and foreign reporters over the past two decades, noted Sarwar Mamond, another Kabul-based political analyst.

He pointed to the Taliban's December 2019 killing of Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, a Japanese physician who spent his life serving in Afghanistan, and the kidnapping of American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, both professors at the American University of Afghanistan, in August 2016. King and Weeks were released in November 2019.

Such incidents are undeniable evidence of the Taliban's hostility toward foreigners, and there is a major difference between what the Taliban say and what they do, he said.

The Taliban's rosy vows to provide a safe environment for foreign diplomats are also just propaganda and part of their strategic communications campaign to court foreign countries that have political representation in Afghanistan, according to Mamond.

'Taliban are unreliable'

The Taliban are unreliable and nobody trusts them whatsoever, said Imam Muhammad Warimach, director of the Afghanistan Democracy Studies centre.

"Even though the Taliban declared a ceasefire during the recent Eid holiday, they launched attacks in different parts of the country, killing several members of security forces and civilians," he said.

"The Taliban must understand they will not be able to gain power militarily," Warimach said.

If the Taliban decide not to pursue peace talks and instead attempt to seize power by force, they should realise that neither the Afghan people nor the international community, including the United Nations, will recognise their legitimacy, he added.

If the Taliban aim to gain the trust of Afghans and the international community, they must end the conflict through negotiation and peace talks, said Arash Shahirpor, a political scientist at Al-Beroni University in Kohistan, Kapisa province.

Otherwise, the world community, like in the past, will recognise the Taliban as terrorists, and they will be globally isolated, he said.

"The Taliban must prove their commitment to building a peaceful Afghanistan by denouncing the ongoing violence and stopping the killing of innocent civilians," Shahirpor said.

Preserving achievements

During the past 20 years, the Afghan people have made significant achievements that they would never compromise on, said Mohammad Suhrab, 26, a student at a private university in Kabul.

He mentioned advancements in freedom of speech, democracy, the right to vote, human rights, education, and political and cultural relations with the world as examples of these achievements.

He called on the Taliban to prevent the loss of this historic progress by joining the ongoing peace talks and ultimately establish a broad-based government.

Addressing the Taliban, Shahirpor said it was time to prove that they were Afghans and that they could bring stability and prosperity to their own country and fellow Afghans.

Shahirpor urged friendly countries to stay engaged and not close their embassies in Afghanistan.

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To please the international community or that the world should recognize them and not call them a terrorist group, Taliban are trying not to target the foreigners and take their security in Afghanistan. However, they continue killing of Afghan security forces, explosions, and targeted attacks. If Taliban are not really a terrorist group, they should stop the war against the Afghan people and be ready to hold talks and resolve the issue of Afghanistan through negotiations, because taking over the power militarily is not a good thing, but these days, Taliban are making their ultimate efforts to collapse the cities of Afghanistan and eventually overthrow the government of Kabul.