A diplomat from the former Afghan government found himself in charge of his country's mission to the UN in New York when its ambassador resigned after the Taliban sought to replace him.
Naseer Faiq, who was serving as political coordinator — a third-ranking diplomat in New York when the Taliban swept to power in 2021 — has been since running the Afghan mission despite objections from the country's de facto authorities.
Taliban leaders have been trying to put their representative in the country’s seat at the UN.
Once a big mission with 16 diplomats and local staff before the Taliban takeover, it has been downsized to four people, including Faiq, its charge d'affaires.
“We are not in contact with the Taliban. We are not representing the Taliban. We are the only voice of the oppressed groups in Afghanistan,” he said in an interview with Anadolu. “We are representing the voice of voiceless people. Those groups that are under oppression, especially women, human rights defenders, woman's rights defenders, journalists, and military and national security forces.
“We are really financially struggling right now. That's why most of our colleagues left the mission because they have financial problems and they have families,” he said. “It's not easy, but for us, our main objective is how to support the people of Afghanistan at a very critical time when they need us.”
“There are still bills piling up on, we are trying to somehow manage but we haven't been able to pay anything,” said Faiq.
He said some Taliban members were trying to undermine his position by presenting him as if he were receiving outside financial support.
“We are not receiving any kind of financial support from any source — neither nationally nor internationally,” he said.
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“I am keeping the integrity of our mission and myself and being honourable, trying to be credible and trying to raise voices of Afghanistan,” he said. “I'm very honoured and happy that at this critical time at least I'm doing something right for my people from my country. And I'm sure that it will be recorded in history.”
“I have been the voice of Afghan people and I have been sharing whatever's happening in Afghanistan, some of the violations, the atrocities, all these things that happen … and I'm sure that the Taliban are not happy with me and I might be on their blacklist,” he added.
The Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan on Aug. 15, 2021, followed by the disruption of international financial assistance has left the worn-torn country in economic, humanitarian and human rights crises.
Taliban rulers have mounted a sustained attack on human rights despite their commitments to protect human and women's rights.
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Women and girls have been deprived of their rights, including the right to education and disappeared from public life under the Taliban.
Thousands of women have since lost their jobs or were forced to resign from government institutions and the private sector.
‘We know that they haven't changed. We know that they will not change,” said Faiq.
He said there might be some among the Taliban with different views but they are not in a position to act against the leader.
“They either don't have any authority to make a change, or they are just somehow in collaboration with their leader, just trying to play the good cop and the bad cop. Some of them try to engage with the international community and say that we are open-minded, we support women's education, but it's our leader, decisions are made in Kandahar.”
He said the Taliban is deliberately buying time to wear out the patience of the international community for it to recognise them and normalise the situation.
“We hope that this will not happen,” he said.
Faiq said the Taliban were not ready to sit down with anybody to talk.
“Right now they claim that they defeated the international community or NATO and they are in a triumphant mood,” he said.
He also said there was no strong political will from the international community to deal with the Taliban, which he called an “unfortunate” situation.
“All the engagements and efforts are about how to mitigate the current humanitarian situation, how to save lives in Afghanistan … but unfortunately, the main issue which is the political aspect is how to form a politically responsible and accountable government that can address the current situation and be an active member of the international community,” he said.
Faiq urged the Taliban to rectify their mistakes, listen to the Afghan people and preserve the achievements of the last 20 years by forming an inclusive government.
“If they are really patriotic and if they love their people and their country, this is the time for them to prove it,” he said.