New York, 14 November 2022 (TDI): The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution titled “The Situation in Afghanistan”. It reproached the Taliban for the ongoing violence in the country.
Afghanistan is now the only state in the world that would deny girls their full right to education.
I reiterate my call for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of all Afghans, especially women & girls.https://t.co/Go1J3iz5MV pic.twitter.com/37Kcdg5MJS
— UN GA President (@UN_PGA) November 11, 2022
The resolution also reproached them for violating the human rights of Afghan women and of failing to establish a representative government.
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The UN General Assembly mentioned that the Taliban had plunged the country into dire economic, humanitarian, and social conditions as it forged ties with terrorist groups.
Of the 193 member states, 166 voted in favor of the resolution, and 10 abstained. These include Pakistan, China, Russia, Zimbabwe, and North Korea among others. Sixty-seven countries did not vote.
Why Pakistan abstained from voting?
Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan’s Mission to the United Nations Aamir Khan explained the abstention while calling the resolution “unrealistic and unbalanced.” He made several points during his explanation.
Ambassador Aamir Khan Deputy Permanent Representative 🇵🇰🇺🇳 delivering Explanation of Vote on the resolution on Afghanistan contained in document A/77/L.11.,in the General Assembly today in the Situation in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/UkIP0t0S4X
— Permanent Mission of Pakistan to UN, NY (@PakistanUN_NY) November 10, 2022
UN not acknowledging the Afghan government
The first point Aamir Khan made is the resolution failed to acknowledge the de facto government in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban return to power in 2021, United Nations has not acknowledged the interim government introduced by them.
Pakistan has time and again urged the outside nations to work with the new rulers of Afghanistan to stabilize the conflict-prone country.
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This point is proved by United Nations not inviting the Taliban-controlled government representatives to the current session of UNGA, despite receiving the current Afghan Foreign Ministry’s letter of interest to participate.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric confirmed receiving the letters. But the UN credentials committee was not in favor of supporting the Taliban’s request for joining as the legitimate government.
Allowing a Taliban representative to participate in the UN session would translate as recognizing the new regime in Kabul and the UN is hesitant to do it.
Pakistan, along with Qatar is urging world leaders gathered in United Nations to not turn their backs on Afghanistan.
No relaxation in sanctions
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) maintains a sanctions regime against the Taliban to promote peace, stability, and security in Afghanistan.
During the meeting, only humanitarian aid was provided to Afghanistan, and economic aid to the government was not discussed. This point was another issue in the abstention of the resolution.
According to Pakistan, continued sanctions and a freeze on donor aid will lead to a complete collapse of the Afghan economy, exacerbating an already dire situation.
The United Nations is likely to change Taliban behavior through incentives rather than punitive measures. It is worth noting here that the European Union has suspended $1.4 billion in development aid.
The United Nations has frozen all of Afghanistan’s central bank’s $9.4 billion in reserves while halting cash flows to Afghanistan. In addition, the World Bank & the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have also blocked the Taliban’s access to financial resources.
Pakistan drew attention to the fact that the country should not be isolated from the world. There is a need to negotiate with the new government because a boycott will only bring polarization and reaction. While dialogue could bring positive results.
Unfair consultation process
According to Pakistan’s Permanent Representative at the UN, a specific delegation was allowed to block references to the mention of terrorist organizations. The delegation was most definitely India and its role during the consultation process.
It is to be noted that according to India, the UNSC monitoring team has asked India to monitor terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Pakistan-endorsed terrorist organizations from using Afghan soil for terrorist activities.
According to Pakistan’s representative, the OIC is working with Pakistan to negotiate with the Taliban to facilitate girls’ education. But it takes patience and persistence to achieve positive results.
Pakistan has tough decisions to make. It is concerned about the cross-border implications of the economic and diplomatic crisis in Afghanistan.
As a close neighbor of Afghanistan, Pakistan cannot bear the prospect of another civil crisis in Afghanistan. It could further destabilize Pakistan’s northwestern borders.
Growing insecurity and financial difficulties could see thousands of Afghans seek refuge and livelihood in Pakistan, while the country itself is on the brink of economic collapse.
This entire scenario left Pakistan with the option of easing the isolation of the Taliban government and persuading the Taliban to make concessions on counter-terrorism and women’s education.
To conclude, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan considers Afghanistan a close ally. Pakistani leaders want to bring the Taliban into the international world as a recognized and legitimate government.
Any negative impact on Afghanistan at this point would cast Pakistan hard economically and politically. Under the circumstances, abstaining from the resolution was the right diplomatic move.
It would get the world to give Afghanistan more than humanitarian aid to keep the economy alive.