Former Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva, now UN special envoy for Afghanistan, gestures during a presser in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 29 November 2011. EPA-EFE FILE/IGOR KOVALENKO

Taliban welcome UN acknowledgement of progress, ignore criticism

Kabul, June 22 (EFE).- The Taliban on Thursday highlighted the progress achieved by Afghanistan since their ascent to power – such as an “effective” ban on drug-trafficking and macroeconomic stability – citing the United Nations, while ignoring the criticism offered by the body on other aspects of their governance, such as the repression of women’s rights.

Taliban security personnel greet each other after Eid al-Fitr prayers in Kabul, Afghanistan, 21 April 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/SAMIULLAH POPAL 
Kabul (Afganistán), 21/04/2023.- Personal de seguridad talibán se saluda tras las oraciones de Eid al-Fitr en Kabul, Afganistán, 21 de abril de 2023. Los musulmanes de todo el mundo celebran Eid al-Fitr, el festival de tres días que marca el final del Ramadán. Eid al-Fitr es una de las dos principales festividades del calendario islámico. (Afganistán) EFE/EPA/SAMIULLAH POPAL

“We welcome some parts of the statement by UN special envoy Roza Otunbayeva to the UN Security Council in which she acknowledges the positive changes that have taken shape in Afghanistan such as the effective ban on narcotics, macroeconomic stability, elimination of corruption,” the Afghan foreign ministry said in a statement.

Otunbayeva, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, on Tuesday told the UNSC about the “terrible” situation in Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power in August 2021.

Despite highlighting the stability of the Afghan economy, which she partially attributed to a decrease in corruption by high officials, the envoy stressed that this improvement “coexists with severe household poverty,” according to the transcript of the speech.

She also mentioned other “positive changes” such as an effective ban on opium cultivation and a shar drop in the number of civilian casualties since the Islamists had taken over Kabul.

However, Otunbayeva said unequivocally that these achievements were undermined by the Taliban’s treatment of women.

She referred to the Islamists banning all Afghan women from working for the UN and nonprofits, insisting that the body did not plan to replace the female employees – who have been unable to come to office due to the ban – with men.

The UN envoy on Afghanistan also warned that it would be “nearly impossible” for the Taliban government to gain international recognition while it continued to suppress the rights of women and girls.

The Taliban have imposed a series of restrictions on women after seizing power, including a ban on secondary or higher education, mandatory veils, gender segregation at public places and the need to be accompanied by a male family member on long journeys.

“These decrees are highly unpopular among the Afghan population,” Otunbayeva claimed.

She also expressed concern over the attacks being carried out by the Afghan arm of the Islamic State, despite the regime’s efforts against terrorism.

The envoy urged the international community to increase efforts to stabilize the Afghan economy, though adding that the UN “could do much more if the Taliban rescinded its punishing restrictions on its female population.” EFE