Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Tajikistan, Zahir Aghbar, posted a message to his Facebook account on August 18 pledging allegiance to the de jure Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who has said he is assuming the role of “legitimate caretaker president” following the flight of deposed President Ashraf Ghani from Kabul.  Aghbar has said Ghani made off with US$169 million, according to Eurasianet.

In interview with Eurasianet on August 17, Aghbar struck a similarly defiant line, signaling his refusal to submit to the rule of the Taliban.   

Aghbar noted that Dr. Ashraf Ghani had handed Afghanistan over to the Taliban.  “We had more than 350,000 equipped troops, experienced military personnel, and they did not fight the Taliban. And we saw this in part in the northern regions of Afghanistan that border Tajikistan,” said Zahir Aghbar.  “There are more than 20 districts there. And they went over to the Taliban without mounting any resistance.”

According to him, Ashraf Ghani had a prior agreement with the Taliban.  “He already had a plan for betrayal in his head.  He abandoned his supporters and betrayed the people of Afghanistan,” Aghbar told Eurasianet. 

…Afghan diplomat further noted that if a collation government was formed and it is recognized by the international community, Afghanistan would embark on the road to peace.

Asked what would be needed for the international community to recognize a new government as legitimate, Mr. Aghbar said, “The Taliban must show that they comply with international rules, human rights, and respect the rights of women, let them study, not use violence against the population, they must allow media to cover current affairs, they must not destroy culture, and not attack artists. Only in this way will they be recognized.”

Asked about difference between this Taliban group and those who were around in the 1990s, Afghan diplomat said that for now. the difference is that they have not started massacring people.  “But there have been incidents in the regions of attacks on the homes of officials. It is a good sign, though, that media are still being allowed to operate in Afghanistan. I hope this continues,” he noted. 

Afghan diplomat also said that the Taliban had offered haven to terrorist groups from neighboring countries.  There are many foreign terrorists among the Taliban at this time, according to him. 

Asked how diplomatic relations between Afghanistan and the rest of the world, including those with Tajikistan, are going to be handled, Mr. Aghbar said that they continue working.  “The world recognizes the representation of Afghanistan. When the world recognizes the Taliban-run state, then of course they will send their representatives. But, until it is clear what Taliban rule is going to be like, and if they are not recognized by the world, we will work as before,” he added.