UN Removes Sanctions on Five Ex-Taliban Leaders

The urgency and relevance of the ongoing debate over negotiations with the Taliban was underlined on Wednesday when the UN removed sanctions imposed  in 2001 on five former Taliban leaders.

President Hamid Karzai has said Taliban who are not part of al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups “are welcome to come back to their country, lay down arms, and resume life,” and plans to seek international support for a new reintegration plan at the intergovernmental conference on Thursday.

The five men removed from the sanctioned list were Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, a former foreign minister and confidant of Quetta-based Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar; the Taliban’s deputy commerce minister, Faizl Mohammed Faizan; Abdul Hakim Monib, the deputy minister of frontier affairs who later renounced the Taliban and became a provincial governor; Mohammad Musa Hottak, the deputy planning minister who was later elected to parliament; and a former press officer, Shams-ul Safa Aminzai.

The delisting allows direct participation by the UN in talks involving the five men as representatives of at least one faction of the multi-group insurgency responsible for thousands of civilian and coalition military deaths over the past eight years.

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