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Former US diplomat warns against reengaging in Taliban’s Afghanistan

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KABUL – A former US official has issued a stark warning against the prospect of American diplomats returning to the embattled nation. In a compelling op-ed, Annie Pforzheimer, former deputy chief of mission at U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, argues that engaging with the Taliban would inadvertently grant legitimacy to their oppressive regime.

Speaking about the hardships faced by the Afghan people under Taliban rule, she emphasized the regime’s egregious violations of human rights, including extrajudicial killings, suppression of free speech, and the abduction and mistreatment of young girls. She cautions against the international community conferring legitimacy on a government that thrives on coercion and repression.

As global attention turns to discussions led by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Qatar, aimed at addressing the dire situation in Afghanistan, Pforzheimer urges for a united front in supporting non-Taliban factions within the country. Emphasizing the need to withhold formal recognition from the Taliban until tangible progress is made on human rights obligations, she stresses the importance of empowering Afghan voices in the ongoing dialogue.

Contrary to recent calls for the reopening of a U.S. embassy in Afghanistan as a means to gain insight into Taliban dynamics, Pforzheimer warns against such a move. She highlights the inherent risks and ethical dilemmas of engaging with the Taliban without substantial concessions, cautioning that it could inadvertently bolster the regime’s authority and endanger diplomatic efforts.

Instead, Pforzheimer advocates for a concerted effort to amplify the voices of Afghan civilians, particularly women, and to downgrade diplomatic contact with the Taliban to the lowest possible level. She calls for robust international support for Afghan human rights defenders and underscores the importance of holding the Taliban accountable for their actions through targeted sanctions and social media campaigns.

In conclusion, Pforzheimer emphasizes the critical role of the future UN Special Envoy in challenging Taliban violations of human rights and warns against actions that could undermine diplomatic efforts and compromise the security of both Afghanistan and the United States.

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