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Newsline: Afghan diplomats under pressure from Taliban regime

Afghan embassies around the world that have refused to recognise the new Taliban regime are struggling to stay afloat and facing increasing pressure from Kabul to accept loyalist replacements. None of the country’s 60 or so ambassadors, consuls or heads of diplomatic missions who were appointed by Western-backed former president Ashraf Ghani have agreed to serve the hardline Islamist group since it seized power in August last year. Across the world, Afghan ambassadors have been forced to dramatically scale down their activities, reduce energy bills and food costs, and even move into smaller premises. They have also increased consular fees to generate revenue. It is not clear how long visas, certificates and other documents issued by the holdout embassies will be recognised — either by the Taliban or the international community. New passports issued in Kabul still refer to the country as the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, instead of the Taliban’s preferred “Emirate”, but officials have warned foreign journalists arriving with visas issued independently by the Dubai embassy that they may not be honoured in future. (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/afghan-diplomats-under-pressure-from-taliban-regime/ar-AAV14uA) In a handful of countries near Afghanistan, some ambassadors have left their posts or been pushed out by the Taliban, who have inserted their own representatives — but even the replacements face hardship. In Pakistan, salaries have not been paid since September. Employees live on income from visa and passport renewal fees and marriage certificates, said a source at the consulate in Peshawar, near the Afghan border. The new consul general appointed by the Taliban receives just 50,000 rupees ($280) a month compared with the nearly $5,000 his predecessor made, the source added. In Beijing, the ambassador resigned when a senior diplomat loyal to the Taliban was appointed to the embassy, which he is now unofficially leading. The Taliban have managed to impose their men in Uzbekistan and Iran. The Taliban have also sent delegations from Kabul to Oslo and Geneva, bypassing local embassies, for talks with Western powers. The Taliban did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment, but they have previously claimed to largely have control over Afghan embassies. However, they have failed to have one of their top spokesmen, Suhail Shaheen, accredited as ambassador to the United Nations, with the General Assembly indefinitely postponing a vote on the matter.

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