Taliban ‘putting pressure’ on Afghanistan’s embassies abroad

Afghanistan’s diplomatic and consular missions abroad are struggling with financial and administrative challenges amid growing pressure from the Taliban’s foreign ministry, a source privy to the situation told Amu.

The source also said that while the Taliban is trying to “influence” these missions, its foreign ministry provides little support to them.

The Taliban recently announced that all activities of Afghanistan embassies in Vienna and London are invalid, effective October 8, 2023.

“Please note that these embassies [Afghan embassies in Vienna and London] have not been transparent or coordinating their work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the statement issued by the Taliban’s Foreign Ministry said.

This comes after Afghanistan’s embassies in the Netherlands and Spain announced last week that they have engaged with the Taliban’s foreign ministry in a bid to continue with their consular services.

The move on the part of these two embassies sparked strong objections from Afghanistan’s diplomats abroad.

A source told Amu that the embassies and consulates are under pressure due to administrative necessities and financial challenges inflicted on them as host countries work only for their own interests.

Amu however found that nine of Afghanistan’s embassies engage directly with the Taliban. They are the embassies in China, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Spain, Russia and Turkey.

Afghanistan’s ambassador in Vienna, Manizha Bakhtari, said the stance of the embassy towards the Taliban’s policies resulted in further pressure on the embassy. But Bakhtari said the embassy will still not engage with the Taliban.

“Afghanistan’s embassy in Vienna has been under severe pressure by the Taliban because of taking a steady position and actions against the Taliban’s policies at international conferences,” she said.

She said pressure imposed on the embassy by the Taliban is done in the hope that the embassy will collapse, especially if its consular services are “invalid”.

In reaction to the Taliban’s move, the Afghanistan embassy in London said on X that its consulate continues to provide consular services to clients.

The services, the embassy said, are being provided “from the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland as usual, from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday.”

The source told Amu that financial challenges and the Taliban’s political pressure have affected consulate services and that it forces embassies to either engage with the Taliban or stop their operations.

What is the solution for diplomatic missions abroad?

Mohammad Esa Eshaqzai, head of the National Congress Movement of Afghanistan, stressed that the Taliban needs to earn internal legitimacy to pave the way for international recognition.

“At first, there is a need for internal legitimacy which can be created through a constitution, ensuring freedom and equality for the people. National legitimacy will cause international legitimacy,” he said.

The Taliban swept to power in August 2021, but it has not yet been recognized as the legitimate government of Afghanistan by any country in the world. A few diplomatic missions of Afghanistan have engaged with the Taliban and a couple of foreign embassies are operating in Kabul.

Diplomats appointed to foreign missions by the former government have formed a coalition to tackle ongoing challenges and mounting pressure by the Taliban.ter