Everyone knows that Afghanistan is hurtling toward an economic collapse. The writing has been on the wall since the Taliban took control of the country at the end of August.
But to government ministers from two separate countries are now saying that Afghanistan is on the brink of a historic humanitarian catastrophe unless billions of dollars in frozen assets are released immediately.
Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry says that the only way to prevent “catastrophe” is “direct engagement” with the Taliban.
“Are we going to push Afghanistan into chaos or are we going to try and stabilize the country?” he asked in Dubai.
But Chaudhry said it was time the United States, China and other major powers set out a framework for formal recognition of Afghanistan’s new rulers and for the removal of United Nations sanctions on Taliban members, including some members of the new government.
This, together with direct economic assistance, was the only way to avert instability, he said, adding: “The watch on this bomb is already clicking.”
Swedish development minister Per Olsson Fridh told Reuters, “The country is on the brink of collapse and that collapse is coming faster than we thought.”
Indeed, with so much of Afghanistan’s aid either tied up in the pipeline or being denied because of the Taliban’s human rights track record, the country can’t pay its bills nor can it get the kind of international assistance it needs to feed its people.
Most of the international aid community feels the key is in recognizing the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. But no Western nation will touch the Taliban unless they basically change their religious beliefs and start treating women more like human beings rather than cattle.
Until that happens — a forlorn hope, to be sure — any aid that comes to the people of Afghanistan will come through NGOs and private charity groups operating in Afghanistan.
Following a meeting between senior Taliban representatives and a U.S. delegation earlier this month, a State Department readout said that “The two sides also discussed the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people.”
The Taliban had said following the talks that the U.S. would be providing humanitarian aid to the country but would not be formally recognizing the Taliban. More humanitarian aid has also been given to Afghanistan through the European Union, but the World Bank and some nations have paused developmental assistance, according to Reuters.
China is likely to step in and rescue the Taliban. The Chinese may not be huge fans of the Taliban but neither are they sticklers for stuff like human rights. They will bail out Afghanistan because of its strategic importance — and for no other reason.