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The Killid Group
Taking names off the UN ‘blacklist’Written by By Gulkohi
Saturday, 19 June 2010 17:02
A UN team reviewing the list of names on the UN sanctions list under resolution 1267 completed a four-day visit to Afghanistan last week, an event the UN flagged as a signal of its commitment to the outcome of the government-sponsored National Consultative Peace Jirga which took place earlier this month.
One of the major recommendations of the Peace Jirga was removal of the names of the leaders of the armed opposition from the sanctions list, popularly called the 'blacklist' here. The UN process is expected to be completed by the end of this month, following which several names may be removed from the sanctions list after the final approval of the UN Security Council this week.
The UN Sanctions list came into existence against the Taliban but has stagnated since then. Several of the persons on it may have died or become inactive since then but their names have not been removed. Earlier this year the UN Security Council agreed to remove the names of five former Taliban members who were reconciled by the Afghan government in response to the request of the Afghan government.
Currently there are 137 Afghan nationals on the list and the Afghan government has asked for a review of all the names. However it is unclear how the UN will prioritize the process of getting names off the blacklist. Officials have suggested that the sanctions committee may start at the soft end of the spectrum by taking off names of the dead and inactive members. Any decision to take off names of active members of the insurgency will clearly be a political decision which will require consensus amongst the members of the Security Council, especially the permanent members. Russia, which had earlier said it would oppose moves to de-list any of the names, has since softened its stand and gave its concurrence to the de-listing earlier this year.
Taliban do not care
Speaking of the visit of the team on the sanctions list, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), Staffan de Mistura, flagged it as evidence of the international community's commitment of the Peace Jirga. It was a success according to everyone internationally, he said. De Mistura considered it was clear that de-listing was "one of the clear messages coming from the Peace Jirga and that concrete follow-up is taking place on that. The UN is listening to what the Peace Jirga is saying. Some of the people in the list may not be alive anymore. The list may be completely outdated. There has been a long-awaited timing for this and now is the right time."
While terming it a 'co-incidence', de Mistura said it was also extremely timely from a political perspective in view of the current environment. "The fact that it is taking place now shows a political attention to a political message, but the criteria are really up to the Security Council."
De-listing of names appears to be a serious requirement to ensure progress in the peace talks. However it is unclear how and when the process can include the top leadership of the Taliban. There are also fears that the process would remain symbolic and not make any real difference.
"I think crossing out the names of top Taliban leaders will not have any impact on peace talks because the Taliban is not concerned with that. Their pre-conditions are only about the withdrawal of foreign troops and related demands", says Fatemah Nejati, a student of Kabul University.
Pointing out the list had many names, Parliamentarian Farouq Mirani said "there are many people in the UN Blacklist. Some of them are in Afghanistan and some in Pakistan. I think the names of those who have a greater role in ensuring peace and security in the country should be crossed out from the list."
Wahid Mujda, an analyst, feels the list was created for a special situation and without adequate information. He points to the names of certain individuals who were actually not supporting the Taliban but rather in the employee of organizations opposed to them.
The list, he said, was mainly focused on those who were already dead or had joined the Afghan government such as Abdul Hakim Munib, former governor of Uruzgan.
He also said that unless the real demands of the Taliban were met they would not join the peace process notwithstanding the removal of their names from the sanctions list. He referred to the boast of Hizb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who had said he would doubt his own commitment had his name not been on the UN sanctions list.
It would be far more difficult to meet the other conditions set by the insurgents, Mujda said. "The Hizb-e-Islami leader has said that the first step should be for the foreign troops to re-deploy outside the cities and to schedule a gradual withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan."
Another condition of the peace talks is the demand that the insurgents sever their ties with international terrorist networks and the Al Qaeda. Mujda however felt that insurgents would have no interest in maintaining these ties if they joined the Afghan government and the mainstream. However if they were not satisfied and their demands were not met, they would be susceptible to foreign interference.