Challenging operational context of Afghanistan
THE extreme and challenging operational context in Afghanistan started to appear just after 20 years with the decision of US forces’ withdrawal.
In the wake of the Taliban’s takeover, the financial assistance in terms of foreign aid was blocked further deteriorating the situation in Afghanistan.
The recently held Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign Ministers’ Conference of (19 Dec 2021) 57 countries’ for the concerns of Afghanistan is appreciable. Pakistan has always been vocal to assist and raise voice for the neighbouring country.
Due to the efforts, Saudi Arabia agreed to provide $265 million, while Pakistan committed $30 million in financial assistance through Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Per United Nations (UN) 2021 data, 22.8 million Afghan people are facing an acute shortage of food, and day by day, the economic condition is slipping into more devastating conditions, in which, 8.7 million Afghans are at emergency-level food security, and needed $220 million a month to sustain World Food Programme (WFP) operations.
Afghanistan’s economy had always been dependent on foreign aid and after the take over of Taliban in August, the poverty level was at 54% despite $146 billion spent by the US as a reconstruction boost.
Taliban have accused former government involvement in corrupt practices. In a recent interview, former fled Afghan President Ghani denied the allegations against him of stolen government money.
In these circumstances of the blame game, Afghanistan’s situation requires to be dealt on a faster pace as the current economic and humanitarian crises lead to extreme poverty. According to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN, 97% of Afghan people will be living soon below the poverty line in the present circumstances.
Approximately, 80% of the previous government budget was managed by the international community. Due to shortage and frozen funding, the budget is unable to fund hospitals, schools, government ministries and factories. The OIC was the initial step towards Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid viewed that “we intend to ease these problems, and know what the people are facing”.
The end of year protest by women in Kabul towards the US embassy was a call to release Afghan frozen assets, human rights, justice and freedom.
The protesters were objecting to the restrictions imposed on women under the current government. According to new imposed guidelines, women are banned from long-distance travelling without being escorted by a close male member.
They were on the view that in more provinces, the girls are not allowed to study after sixth grade. The immediate picture of moderate Taliban after taking over Afghanistan is showing a different picture somewhere.
The killing of previous government members, TTP operations from Afghanistan, and lack of fulfilling the promise in the provision of women’s rights are the main reasons behind not getting access to funding.
This is the reason; the international community has restricted themselves in the provision of direct funding.
Concerning Pakistan’s role, it has always been affected by the conditions of Afghanistan as being the neighbouring country, immigration is always been a serious issue to accommodate a large number of refugees in crisis.
It is already seen in the late 1970s and early 1980s at the time of the Soviet’s invasion of Afghanistan that forced many to immigrate to Pakistan.
Due to the unaffordability to handle such a large number of immigrants, there is only a solution to handle in time with the assistance and that effort can be seen by recent OIC with concerns and communication of Pakistan with the international community on various platforms.
Recently, Pakistan DG ISPR Major Gen Iftikhar stated at a Press conference that 94% of the fencing along the Pak-Afghan border has already been completed to regulate the movement of people, facilitate trade by keeping the security concerns.
According to Maj Gen Iftikhar, an operation was conducted in North Waziristan to ensure security along the border of the two countries.
Further, he stated that after withdrawal of US forces from Afghan soil had an impact on the security situation in Pakistan in keeping away the militants (Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan).
By considering the Durand Line as an international marked border, fencing has been done, so far 673 border check posts have been constructed along the border.
Pakistan is seen always focusing on the larger perspective on this issue. The recently developed incidents of trying to remove a fence from the eastern province by local Taliban soldiers is objectionable and hope to see positive understanding from them that is based on security issues by abiding the international law.
Enayatullah Khwarazmi, spokesperson of the Afghan Defence Ministry, stated fencing isolates both sides of the families.
There is a need to understand the serious issues where both countries are facing currently. No doubt, Pakistan’s role always remains helpful with precautions as Pakistan equally faced adverse effects due to Afghanistan’s situations from time to time.
—The writer is a columnist, researcher and adjunct faculty member at Riphah International University, Islamabad.