Afghanistan: UNSC lifts Taliban minister’s travel ban for trip to Russia

Taliban’s Mawlawi Khairullah Khairkhwah

The UN Security Council (UNSC) this week temporarily lifted the travel ban on the Taliban’s acting information and culture minister, Khairullah Khairkhah, in order for him to travel to Russia.

A source from the UN familiar with the process told Amu TV on condition of anonymity that the travel ban exemption is for a 10-day period and that it was requested by Russia.

The source stated that UNSC members did not object to Russia’s request, therefore it was approved.

“Because the discussions are very political, the cases are presented informally, and at the end, documents are arranged for it. The Security Council puts a letter under review and if it does not face any objection, then it is approved. The decision was made individually, however, no new decision was made regarding the remaining 12 people [Taliban leaders] who are banned from traveling,” the source said.

Earlier this week, the Taliban’s publications deputy of the information and culture ministry, Hayatullah Farahi, announced that a 10-day exemption was granted in order for Khairkhah to attend a cultural event in Russia.

The travel ban exemption came into effect on December 1 and will run through until December 10, allowing Khairkhah to travel to Russia’s Tatarstan capital, Kazan city, Farahi said.

However, Farahi said Tuesday that Khairkhar has no intention of attending the event. When asked why Khairkhah is not going to Russia, Farahi said: “I don’t know” and would not provide Amu TV with any further details.

Taliban’s deputy spokesman Bilal Karimi and information and culture ministry spokesperson Abdul Matin Qani did not respond to the phone calls by Amu TV’s correspondent.

An official at the Afghan embassy in Russia meanwhile stated that they were not aware of Khairkhah’s invitation to Russia, nor were they aware of Russia’s request to the UNSC. The official, who asked to remain anonymous, told Amu TV that the Taliban ambassador had probably been informed of the matter.

Amu TV made several phone calls to the Taliban ambassador to Moscow Nasir Gharwal, but failed to reach him.

In August this year, the UN Security Council re-imposed travel bans on 13 senior Taliban members, including Mawlawi Khairullah Khairkhah, due to increasing restrictions on Afghan women, closure of girls’ schools, arrest and torturing women protesters, violating human rights and violating the Doha Agreement.

Khairullah Khairkhah, Shahabuddin Delawar, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Noorullah Noori, Abdul Latif Mansoor, Mawlawi Abdul Kabir, Mullah Fazel Mazloum, Noor Mohammad Saqib, Din Mohammad Hanif are among the 13 Taliban officials whose travel ban was extended.

In 2019, US President Donald Trump lifted the travel ban on a number of Taliban officials to begin peace talks with.