UN Deputy Chief, Amina Mohammed, meeting the Taliban Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, in Kabul in January.

UN Deputy Chief reveals plans to recognise the Taliban, treat the group ‘like COVID’, she says

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, announced on Monday that she is planning to hold a conference in the coming days to discuss granting recognition to Afghanistan’s Taliban.

According to VOA News, Mohammed emphasised the need for engagement with the fundamentalist authorities, saying that the international meeting would bring envoys for Afghanistan from around the world to the table.

“What we are hoping is that we’ll gather them now in another two weeks in the region, and they will have that first meeting of envoys across the board — the region and internationally — with the secretary-general for the first time,” she said.

“And out of that, we hope that we’ll find those baby steps to put us back on the pathway to recognition [of the Taliban], a principled recognition,” Mohammed said. “Is it possible? I don’t know. [But] that discussion has to happen. The Taliban clearly want recognition, and that’s the leverage we have.”

Mohammed’s remarks come as the Taliban supreme leader in his Eid message, Hibatullah Akhundzada, renewed his resolve on Tuesday to achieve his goal of “the religious and moral reform of the [Afghan] society” through the vigorous implementation of Islamic law, or Shariah.

During her visit to Afghanistan in January, Mohammed discussed with Taliban leaders the sweeping curbs the fundamentalist authorities have imposed on women’s freedom of work and movement since taking control of the strife-torn nation. But she left the country empty handed.

Mohammed said the Taliban maintain they have enacted several laws to deter gender-based violence and to give more inheritance rights to women, among others, besides eliminating corruption in Afghanistan. But she added that she doesn’t have any engagement with the international community to know whether they are implementing the laws or not.

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“We cannot allow that they continue to get worse, which is what happens when you don’t engage,” she said.

Mohammed said engagement with the Taliban would help to hold them accountable for their actions. She noted that the Taliban are becoming stronger because neighboring countries are engaging with them economically to ensure Afghanistan does not plunge into chaos and implode from within.

During her visit to Afghanistan in January, Amina Mohammed meet Taliban leaders in Kabul and Kandahar.

“There are trade surpluses with Afghanistan today. There’s the banking system that’s put in place for Afghanistan today, and we still say there are sanctions. So, we either engage and pull them to the right side, or we don’t and see where it drifts. We must dine with the devil with [a] long spoon,” she said.

Mohammed said the U.N. told its Afghan female staff to work from home while it negotiates with the Taliban for the removal of the ban on women. She added that female employees could work from home and earn a salary.

“Please treat the Taliban like COVID. We don’t know what they’re going to do or how they’re going to react. … But I know three or four [women] are picked up, and maybe I wouldn’t see them again. I am not going to risk any one Afghan woman to people we know are unpredictable,” she said.

Mohammed did not share further details about the date or venue of the proposed envoys’ conference