New Delhi: The US administration said it has maintained sanctions pressure on the Taliban and its leaders, as well as the significant restrictions on their access to the international financial system.
“And this gets back to the core point that even as we maintain pressure on the Taliban and we continue to hold them to account for the commitments they’ve made both publicly and privately,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a briefing.
“The US has significant leverage when it comes to the Taliban and any future government of Afghanistan, but we have all the more leverage when we work in coordination and in harmony with our allies and partners around the globe. The Taliban will need and in fact want international assistance. They will seek legitimacy. They’ve already sought such legitimacy in important ways already.
“We have been very clear that the US and the international community will be watching very closely as things unfold going forward to make sure that we continue to have a unified approach to ensure that we’re best-positioned to assist the people of Afghanistan going forward and into the future,” Price added.
The spokesman also said that the US condemns in the strongest terms reports of the Taliban reinstating amputations and executions of Afghans.
“The acts the Taliban are talking about here would constitute clear gross abuses of human rights, and we stand firm with the international community to hold perpetrators of these of any such abuses accountable.
“We stand with the Afghan people, especially with women, children, journalists, human rights defenders, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and members of minority groups, and demand that the Taliban immediately cease any such atrocious abuses.
“The world is watching. The international community is watching very closely. And together we have consistently emphasized the importance of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for any future government in Afghanistan.
“Those rights include freedom from torture and cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as rights related to due process. And so again, we are watching very closely, and not just listening to the announcements that come out but watching very closely as the Taliban conducts itself,” the State Department spokesperson added.
Price said “we must stay united in holding the Taliban to their commitments in key areas, and there are five of them that we have talked about”.
First, we must hold the Taliban to their commitment to allow foreign nationals and Afghans to travel outside the country if they so choose.
“We support the safe departure of Afghans who want to leave, and we support our partners in their efforts to relocate Afghan staff and family members. We believe this should be a prerequisite to any meaningful engagement with the Taliban,” Price said.
Second, “we must hold the Taliban accountable to their commitment to prevent terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a base for external operations that threaten other countries”, according to the spokesman.
“Third, we must be fierce advocates for the human rights of all Afghan people, of all the people of Afghanistan, and that includes women, children, members of minority groups. And the Taliban must make good on their commitment not to carry out reprisal violence and to grant an amnesty to all who worked for the former government or coalition forces.
“Fourth, we must keep pressing the Taliban on unimpeded humanitarian access. It is something that is of paramount importance to us that, together with the international community, we are able to continue to deliver these substantial pledges and commitments that collectively we’ve made
“And finally, we’ve called on the Taliban to form an inclusive government that can meet the needs and reflect the aspirations of the Afghan people. And in saying ‘we’, I use the term collectively, because this is not something that the United States alone has called for or signed onto. This is something that much of the international world has been behind throughout the course of the recent weeks,” Price said.
The spokesman said the US Treasury took further steps to mitigate the impact of sanctions on humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan by issuing two general licenses and four Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
These actions authorise the US government, certain international organisations, including the UN and the World Bank, and NGOs and those acting on their behalf, to continue humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan.
These licenses and corresponding FAQs will enable non-US persons, including NGOs and foreign financial institutions, to continue to support critical and lifesaving activities.
This follows past precedent in which Washington has taken steps to address urgent humanitarian needs in jurisdictions subject to US sanctions regulations, as is the case here, Price added.
By Sanjeev Sharma