Diverting Afghans money: An unethical decision | By Dr Farah Naz

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Diverting Afghans money: An unethical decision

PRESIDENT Joe Biden is facing severe criticism within and across the world for his cruel decision to avert the Afghan frozen funds for the 9/11 victims.

According to the decision, half of the frozen assets could go toward providing relief inside Afghanistan while the remaining will be made available for 9/11 victims.

This decision sets an ugly precedent and leaves behind Washington under theft charges for stealing the Afghan assets.

While justifying their decision, the White House officials said unfreezing the money was a necessary legal step both for the Afghan mass starvation and the claimants of 9/11.

Here two questions arise: 1) did they find any Afghan on the plane that hit the world trade centre?

If not, then why is there an aversion to funds for the victims of 9/11?

2) If the Afghans cannot spend that money then what sort of candy is this?

There was no concrete evidence to prove the involvement of Afghans in the unfortunate incident on 9/11.

Therefore, there was no legitimate reason to freeze Afghan assets in the first place and then decide to avert funds to the victims of 9/11.

It looks like the US recent decision is still a reaction to its humiliating defeat in Afghanistan.

With such gestures, the US seems to be highly determined to punish Afghans no matter what.It brings nothing but shame to the US for setting such uncalled for actions.

The US officials said that we plan to consult widely in the coming months, including with the Afghan community, about the governance and use of the funds we are seeking to release.

With this set of arrangements, are they hoping for an opening to various NGOs that can operate at the behest of the US?

But, these are centuries-old tactics of the same dirty games such as spending money through their frontmen.

Unfortunately, this dirty game in Afghanistan is planned one more time but at the cost of 38 million Afghans.According to the UN reports, 97% of Afghans will sink below the poverty line by 2022.

Here the question is who can be held accountable for this level of poverty: 20 years of US-backed Afghan govt or six months of financially starved Taliban rule?

Where did billions of US dollars go?Did they spend on Afghan people or people of their choice?Alas, no more bluff is possible as lenses have cleared now!

Biden’s decision to split the frozen funds is drawing some scrutiny, including from a group representing 9/11 families that argues all relatives of victims, not just the ones currently suing for compensation, should be allowed access to the frozen money.

Meanwhile, there is an outcry among activists who say allowing any of the frozen assets to go to 9/11 families is wrong, since no Afghans perpetrated 9/11 and the money belongs to the Afghan people, where none of them was on planes that hit the World Trade Center and the State Department.

The Afghan Government has claimed rights to the funds, which include assets like currency and gold, but the US has declined access.

The Afghan Government spokesman Mohammad Naeem criticized the US for not unfreezing all the funds to Afghanistan.

He claimed that stealing the blocked funds of the Afghan nation by the US and its seizure (of those funds) shows the lowest level of humanity of a country and a nation of such stature.

Afghanistan’s economy has collapsed, international assistance has also been mostly shut off as countries weighed whether to send aid to the Taliban or not.

Even before the Taliban seized power, poverty and food insecurity were widespread due to back-to-back droughts, economic decline, protracted conflict and the pandemic.

But in the months after the takeover, the crisis rapidly worsened.Billions of dollars of foreign development aid dried up, depriving the country of money that had been propping up the economy, key services and aid workers.

Recently, at least a million children under five are at risk of dying from starvation.

The International Rescue Committee ranked Afghanistan No.1 on its annual emergency watch list of countries whose humanitarian crisis are expected to deteriorate in 2022.

In January, the US announced $308 million in humanitarian aid for the people of Afghanistan, as well as additional Covid-19 vaccine doses.

That brought the total US assistance to the country to $782 million since October 2021.

Although there is a broad-based consensus that the Afghan humanitarian crisis is alarming and it deserves immediate humanitarian assistance.

Indeed, the UN is working on resolving the humanitarian crisis.The international community, except the US, acknowledges and is well aware of the situation and trying to reach deserving people in Afghanistan.

President Joe Biden’s funds’ aversion decision at this crucial time faced huge criticism.

Lawmakers have urged the Biden Administration to take action to avert an economic disaster in Afghanistan, proposing measures that could provide relief.

In a December letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a group of House lawmakers advised the Administration to release frozen Afghan funds ‘to an appropriate United Nations Agency to pay teachers’ salaries and provide meals to children in schools, so long as girls can continue to attend.

’ In December, the Biden Administration announced it was lifting some restrictions on the types of aid that humanitarian organizations can provide to Afghanistan that would enable support for educational programs, including paying teachers’ salaries.

The US State Department’s Special Representative and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Afghanistan Tom West said, “‘It is an open secret that the country is in the midst of not just a widening humanitarian crisis, but also an economic cratering.

It is heartbreaking what is happening in Afghanistan.It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up.It’s the last thing I think about before I go to bed.

As you say there are millions of Afghans suffering, and in many ways, they’re suffering not for decisions they made but for decisions that others made.’ If the decision is made by others, why do Afghans have to suffer forever?

It is time to consider humanity above all other considerations.

It’s time to let go of old practices as only wine tastes better with age but war tactics require updated solutions and techniques.

Hence, the new situation in Afghanistan requires new strategies and new strategies require new players!

—The writer is Assistant Professor, Department of Government and Public Policy, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Sciences and Technology.

 

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