Acting Taliban Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund on Wednesday called on Muslim countries to be the first to officially recognize the government that seized power in Afghanistan in August.
No country has yet recognized the Taliban as a government, and nations are watching as the terrorist group — infamous for its human rights abuses during their first stint in power between 1996 and 2001 — will rule this time.
Although the group has promised softer governance, women have been largely barred from government jobs and girls’ high schools have largely remained closed.
“I call on Muslim countries to take the lead and officially recognize us. Then I hope we can develop quickly,” Akhund said at a conference in Kabul to address the country’s massive economic crisis.
“We don’t want anyone’s help. We don’t want it for the officials,” Akhund said, referring to diplomatic recognition.
“We want it for our public,” he said, adding that the Taliban had fulfilled all the necessary conditions by restoring peace and security.
Aid-dependent Afghanistan is in the throes of a humanitarian disaster, exacerbated by the Taliban takeover in August — when Western countries froze international aid and access to assets abroad.
Jobs have dried up and many government workers have gone unpaid for months in a country that was almost entirely dependent on foreign aid under the previous US-backed administration.
The United Nations has warned that half of the population is threatened with food shortages.
Nations face the delicate task of channeling aid to the stricken economy without backing the regime, with many members of what the Taliban call their interim government — including Akhund — on an international sanctions list.
The Taliban leader was a close associate and political advisor to Mullah Omar, the founder of the movement and its first supreme leader.
Last month, a special meeting of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) refused to formally recognize the government, and the new regime’s acting foreign minister was barred from the official photo taken at the event.
However, the OIC pledged to work with the United Nations to try to unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen Afghan assets.
It also urged Afghan rulers to adhere to international obligations regarding women’s rights.
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the only three countries to recognize the previous Taliban government.
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