While Afghanistan was among the key topics of discussion at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the country will have no one to represent it at the global body’s ongoing 76th session. US President Joe Biden in his address to world leaders on September 21 said America was starting a new era of “relentless diplomacy” after ending the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan criticised attempts to blame his country for the Afghanistan crisis. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said some countries were using Afghanistan as a tool for their own benefit.

Taliban, ousted Afghan government dispute over UN representation

Ghulam Isaczai, who was due to represent the US-backed Ashraf Ghani regime ousted by the Taliban in mid August, pulled out of delivering an address to world leaders late on Monday. The decision by the Afghanistan delegation to withdraw participation from the UN General Debate “was their own decision,” Spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric said at the daily press briefing Monday.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Taliban’s newly appointed foreign minister, Ameer Khan Muttaqi, said Ghani was “ousted” as of August 15 and that countries across the world “no longer recognize him as president.” Therefore, Muttaqi said, Isaczai no longer represents Afghanistan and the Taliban was nominating Mohammad Suhail Shaheen as the country’s new UN permanent representative . Shaheen was a spokesperson for the Taliban during peace negotiations in Qatar.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told Associated Press on Monday morning: “We were notified Saturday by the Afghan Mission that they would no longer be speaking.”

Isaczai wrote a separate letter to Guterres, dated September 15, containing the list of Afghanistan’s delegation for the session.

A nine-member credentials committee that included the United States, Russia and China, did not meet in time to approve the Taliban’s request.

The UN refused to recognize Taliban government during their rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, instead giving Afghanistan’s seat to the previous government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani.