September 15, 2021

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A group of Afghan diplomats from the deposed government in Kabul has issued a first-of-its-kind joint statement calling on world leaders to deny the Taliban formal recognition and chiding them for “leaving our people at the mercy of a terrorist group.”

The statement https://graphics.reuters.com/AFGHANISTAN-CRISIS/lbvgngorxpq/Afghan%20diplomats%20statement%20on%20the%20situation%20in%20Afghanistan.pdf, which was provided to Reuters ahead of its public release, was signed by two dozen officials operating in a kind of diplomatic twilight, with no government to represent but still working from missions in the United States, Britain, France, Turkey and elsewhere.

The diplomats who signed the strongly worded letter were all below the rank of ambassador.

“We are disheartened that after twenty years of engagement, our allies are abandoning Afghanistan and leaving our people at the mercy of a terrorist group,” the diplomats wrote.

The letter also asked world leaders to use all available means to halt Taliban violence against women, civil society activists and journalists.

It included warnings about the global implications of the Taliban’s overthrow of the Afghan government.

“Taliban’s success in capturing power through illegal and violent means … emboldens terrorist and violent extremist groups around the world,” they wrote, adding the violent takeover “normalizes violence.”

GHANI’S PICTURE REMOVED

Jawad Raha, first secretary at the embassy in Washington, told Reuters his outpost was still operating, with diplomats there focusing on providing services for Afghans who are living in the United States and drawing attention to the situation in Afghanistan.

Raha said the embassy had taken down Ashraf Ghani’s photo after he abruptly abandoned the presidency and left the country on Aug. 15, leaving Kabul to the Taliban.

“We were all upset, as the other embassies, (over) the way he left the country,” Raha said.

Ghani said last week he left because he wanted to avoid bloodshed and denied allegations he stole millions of dollars on his way out.

The statement by the diplomats called for the creation of an independent, international fact-finding mission on Afghanistan “to ensure justice and accountability.”

It also called for world leaders to consolidate efforts to create a negotiated, all-inclusive government in Afghanistan “that is acceptable to all people of Afghanistan, including women and minorities.”

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Nick Macfie)