Karzai and US special envoy discuss latest situation in Afghanistan

Former president Hamid Karzai had a phone conversation with the US special envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West on Saturday about the ongoing crisis in the country and the latest obstacles in the way of distributing aid to the people.

In a series of tweets, Karzai said both parties emphasized the need for the acceleration of humanitarian aid, for improved access to aid for the people, and the removal of obstacles in the way of distributing aid. 

They both also noted the need for the Taliban’s ban on women working for humanitarian aid agencies to be lifted. In addition, the “talked about the reopening of schools and universities for girls and the return of women to work,” including the need for “lasting peace and stability in the country.”

West in turn tweeted that he spoke with Karzai about the “urgent need to see women and girls return to school and work,” and for steps to be taken “toward dialogue among Afghans, Matiullah Wesa’s unjust detention, and women’s vital role in aid delivery.”

Earlier West said he had met with former deputy foreign minister under the republic government, Hekmat Khalil Karzai. He said the two shared Iftar and that Hekmat Karzai “is among Afghans seeking to drive solidarity among diverse voices who believe in dialogue and a brighter future for their country.”

Hekmat Karzai in turn said the two “discussed a host of issues including the urgent need for reversing the ban on girls’ education and to restore women’s right to work. We also highlighted the importance of an Afghan national dialogue.”

West is currently on a week-long visit to the region where he is meeting with diplomats, civil society leaders and other stakeholders to discuss the Afghanistan crisis. He is scheduled to visit Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

The US State Department said in a statement early in the week that West “is conducting outreach in the region to secure input as the international community seeks solutions to Afghanistan’s compounding challenges, made worse by the Taliban’s recent decisions to limit women’s participation in humanitarian operations and ban them from their vital work for the UN.”

On Friday, West said in a tweet he had met with the Afghan Future Thought Forum in Doha, together with heads-of-mission of key allies and partners.

He said the Forum convenes a dynamic mix of women and men from Afghanistan from diverse backgrounds, economists, rights activists, former ministers, and tribal elders. “Importantly, many participants traveled from Afghanistan to join,” he said.

·“I heard both condemnation and support for Taliban conduct and different recommendations for how the international community should address challenges. But every Afghan participant voiced support for dialogue and opposition to armed conflict as a solution to the country’s challenges.”