Afghan Taliban appoint new envoy to run embassy in neighbouring Pakistan

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General view of the Pakistan's flag and the Taliban's flag in the background as seen from the Friendship Gate crossing point in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan August 12, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

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PESHAWAR/KABUL, Oct 29 (Reuters) - The Taliban government has sent an envoy to run the Afghan embassy in the Pakistani capital, senior Taliban sources said, as the new administration starts to take over Afghanistan's network of foreign delegations.

Mohammad Shokaib was appointed first secretary or charge d'affaires at the embassy, which has not had an ambassador in place since the previous Western-backed government withdrew its envoy in July over the alleged kidnapping of his daughter.

As Pakistan does not officially recognize the new Taliban government, Shokaib will not have the formal title of ambassador but will be in charge of the embassy.

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A Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman said the appointment was mainly about ensuring consular functions, adding: "There are millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and there are visa issues as well."

Two Afghan officials were also appointed to run the consulates in the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar, close to the two major border crossings with Afghanistan.

"We understand that Pakistan has not yet recognised us as a legitimate government but we made these arrangements for public facilitations," a senior Taliban leader told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

No comment was immediately available from Taliban spokesmen in Kabul.

Two other Taliban officials in the foreign affairs and interior ministries confirmed the appointment to Reuters and said similar arrangements had been made in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

No country has given formal recognition to the Taliban, who ousted the Western-backed government in Kabul in August, and Afghanistan's embassies are largely still run by ambassadors appointed by the previous government, many of whom are outspoken critics of the Taliban.

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Additional reporting by Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Nick Macfie

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