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Tajikistan refuses to return money transferred by the Taliban: Report

Taliban officials in Afghanistan have accidentally deposited approximately $800,000 into the bank account of the Afghan Embassy in Tajikistan and are asking for it back. Despite the head of the mission professing allegiance to the deposed government and opposing the Taliban, the request was turned down.

During the past week, the Dushanbe-based news website Avesta reported, citing sources at the embassy, that the money was meant for the construction of a school for refugee children in Tajikistan. Although Ghani had been chased out of Kabul by the Taliban, the transfer did not take place. The funds were transferred to the Dushanbe mission later on, according to Avesta. The Taliban-run Finance Ministry does not appear to have had knowledge of where the money was going.

According to a Eurasianet source at the Embassy, a transfer had indeed occurred, but the amount was closer to $400,000. According to the source, the payment took place in September. The Embassy source said the Taliban government wrote to them in November asking for the return of the money. The request has been denied. ‘We have not built the school, but for four months now, teachers and Embassy staff have been getting their salary out of these funds. All the money is being spent on the needs of the Embassy and of citizens of Afghanistan,’ the source said.

According to this individual, it would, in any case, be impossible to transfer money from Dushanbe to a terrorist organization formally declared by the government of Tajikistan. Afghanistan’s acting ambassador to Tajikistan, Zahir Aghbar, has emerged as a vocal opponent of the Taliban regime and an ardent supporter of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan. Likewise, Tajikistan has offered implicit support to the NRF, albeit cautiously. Emomali Rahmon sees his government’s unwillingness to acknowledge Taliban rule as solidarity with the ethnic Tajik population in Afghanistan. This community has been excluded from the newly formed leadership in Kabul.

Read more: Home Minister’s guidance prompted IAS officer to post photo of cooking, but stove is off!

The NRF has even opened a branch in Dushanbe, although under pressure from the authorities, who reportedly do not want to engage in direct confrontation with the Taliban, the office has been renamed the Ahmed Shah Massoud Foundation, in honor of the anti-Taliban commander murdered in September 2001. Aspiring Afghan refugees have also been unable to access an exit channel under Rahmon’s government. During the month of August, the Interior Ministry declined all requests for refugee status from Afghan nationals. Around 80 people who spent two months in a neutral zone on the border between the two countries have been returned to Afghanistan.

As recently as December 2, Radio Ozodi, the RFE/RL Tajik service, reported that Tajik border guards had deported a group of Afghan asylum seekers. The group included three journalists and a former law enforcement officer who expressed concern about reprisals in their home country. Ozodi quotes a journalist as stating that Tajik border guards wept while transporting the group to Afghanistan. ‘But the border guards said they would be imprisoned if they did not follow orders,’ he is quoted as saying.


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