Protracted conflict in Afghanistan has fractured all segments of society. Although the conflict is over now, a serious humanitarian crisis is looming large on Afghan horizon due to crippling economic conditions. Millions of Afghan people are facing starvation, the wages have dropped dramatically, and health-care system is collapsing. At the same time, the presence of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan is a major threat to security of region and Afghan people in particular. Whether it is about dealing with humanitarian crisis or eliminating the terrorist organizations, the Taliban government should be supported by the world and neighbouring countries in particular.
Afghanistan is a country of thirty-eight million people that is now facing worst humanitarian crisis. Before the Taliban came into power in August 2021, the country was heavily dependent on the foreign aid. After the seizure of power by the Taliban, with halting foreign aid the US also freezes Afghan central bank’s assets of 9.5b USD. In addition, enforcement of sanctions further complicated the situation for the common people of Afghanistan. According to World Food Program, only two percent of the total people have enough food in Afghanistan. The food-assistance branch of the United Nations has warned about widespread acute hunger in the war-torn country.
Pakistan’s role has been extremely important from Afghanistan Peace Process to till date. It helped the Taliban to bring on the negotiating table, and despite risks, it opened-up trade with Afghanistan. Not only this, the government of Pakistan and its people are sending humanitarian aid for the Afghan people. Additionally, Pakistan is constantly raising voice to seek international assistance to address the alarming situation in Afghanistan. In this context, Pakistan hosted an extraordinary session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on the “Humanitarian Situation in Afghanistan” on 19th December 2021 in which OIC members and representatives from the US, China, Russia, UN and EU also participated. At the end of the session, OIC nations passed a resolution pledging funds to stave off Afghanistan ‘chaos. The resolution affirms solidarity of the OIC Member States with the Afghan people in their quest to build a new peaceful, united, stable, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan.
Furthermore, the OIC has decided to establish a Humanitarian Trust Fund, under the aegis of the Islamic Development Bank, to ensure and channelize humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, in partnership with other international actors. It has been stated that the OIC General Secretariat, together with the Islamic Development Bank and Humanitarian Trust Fund, shall commence discussions with the UN system organizations to device a road map for mobilizing actions in relevant fora to unlock the financial and banking channels to resume liquidity and flow of financial and humanitarian assistance, and to devise a mechanism for the disbursement of urgent and sustained humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan; therefore the OIC states have requested the Islamic Development Bank to expeditiously operationalize the Humanitarian Trust Fund by the first quarter of 2022. In addition, the decision has been taken to launch an Afghanistan Food Security Programme, and requests the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) to undertake necessary work in this regard using the capacity of the Organization’s Food Security Reserves, when necessary.
The OIC nations have recognized that terrorism has devastating consequences on human rights and fundamental freedoms of victims and their families, in particular women and girls, deploring the suffering of the people of Afghanistan, and reaffirming its profound solidarity with them while stressing the importance of providing them with proper support and assistance. They have also stressed that the Afghan territory must not be used as a base or safe haven for any terrorist group, and strongly condemning terrorist attacks claimed by the so-called Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), an entity affiliated with Daesh, resulting in the loss of numerous precious lives and injuries to many others. It is important to mention here that the OIC resolution has called upon Afghanistan to take concrete steps against all terrorist organizations in particular Al-Qaeda, Deash and its affiliates, ETIM, and TTP, and also urged the international community to remain cautious against the possibility of incitement and the role of spoilers, both inside and outside the country, to derail efforts aimed at peace and stability in Afghanistan.
It is important to mention here that the OIC resolution has called upon Afghanistan to take concrete steps against all terrorist organizations in particular Al-Qaeda, Deash and its affiliates, ETIM, and TTP, and also urged the international community to remain cautious against the possibility of incitement and the role of spoilers, both inside and outside the country, to derail efforts aimed at peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The United Nations’ officials have also been urging the US and other countries to provide aid to Afghanistan. The UN Security Council has, recently, agreed that providing humanitarian assistance will not violate sanctions. However, the world demands from Taliban remain major impediment in normalizing the Afghanistan’s ties with the rest of the world. These demands include rights, girls education, inclusivity in government, and lastly that the Afghan soil must not be used against any country of the world. Here arises the question that, should the world or neighbouring countries in particular help the Taliban to meet these demands especially in eliminating terrorist safe heavens in Afghanistan? Before answering this question, there is a need to understand ground situation in Afghanistan in this particular case, and how it will not only affect Afghanistan’s internal security as well as the peace of entire region.
The terrorist organizations including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), and Islamic State – Khorasan Province (IS-K) are enjoying safe heavens in Afghanistan especially in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces. The TTP is involved in terrorist attacks in Pakistan, IMU is threat for Uzbekistan and ETIM is threat for China. The IS-K is a major challenge for peace and stability of the region, and as it is backyard of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) therefore poses challenges to the world’s peace.
Moreover, India has been using the instability in Afghanistan for destabilizing Pakistan to achieve its nefarious and hegemonic designs in the region. The troublemaker, India has always used the instability of Afghanistan against Pakistan. Before the Taliban’s take over, the Indian premier agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was using Indian consulates alongside the Pak-Afghan border as centers for launching terrorist attacks in Pakistan. The Indian state-sponsored terrorism badly impacted Pakistan’s socio-economic and security situation. The state that is hell-bent on destroying the peace and thinks that instability suits, it will never work for peace. And such a state does not care about the ground realities as India did. India chose a deadly path to accomplish its nefarious objectives. India’s use of terrorism as a tool and miscalculations led to its complete failure in Afghanistan.
During the puppet regime of Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan, several consulates along the Pak-Afghan border were being used as operation centers by Indian premier agency RAW to achieve their nefarious objectives. Although, after the takeover of the Taliban in Kabul, Indian sanctuaries of terrorists do not enjoy support from the newly established regime in Kabul, the instability in the country is still being used by Indian agencies to further destabilize Afghanistan, and Pakistan as well.
India has always played the role of spoiler in the case of Afghanistan. It does not only use instability in Afghanistan during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s to spread terrorism in Pakistan, it has also been trying to sabotage the Afghan Peace Process. This is quite understandable that why India is always playing havoc in Afghanistan as it wants to engage Pakistan on two fronts. Therefore, the instability in Afghanistan suits India’s hegemonic designs, and it does not want peace in Afghanistan. This is the reason why India is still backing the terrorists’ groups’ i.e. Islamic State – Khorasan (IS-K), Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
In addition, the Indian behaviour in the region can easily be understood through historical lenses. India has dreams of becoming a hegemon in the South Asian Region since it came into existence. Therefore, it often shows aggression while dealing with its neighbors. India knows that it cannot change its geography and with Pakistan’s presence it cannot be the hegemon in the region as Pakistan always resists Indian aggression in the region. Therefore, it has been formulating several strategies to destabilize Pakistan but failed miserably. India was not only defeated in Afghanistan but also remained irrelevant in Afghan Peace Process. Now, when India is striving hard to find some role, then it needs to clean the mess first, that it has created in the last two decades.
India has always played the role of spoiler in the case of Afghanistan. It does not only use instability in Afghanistan during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s to spread terrorism in Pakistan, it has also been trying to sabotage the Afghan Peace Process. This is quite understandable that why India is always playing havoc in Afghanistan as it wants to engage Pakistan on two fronts. Therefore, the instability in Afghanistan suits India’s hegemonic designs, and it does not want peace in Afghanistan.
India must stop sponsoring terrorism in the region and write a formal apology to the government and people of Pakistan for this madness. Not only that, the people of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) have been facing Indian atrocities for over seven decades. Indian policies towards the IIOJK are threatening the peace of the entire region. India must respect the rights of the Kashmiri people and end the siege of IIOJK. The minorities in India are also witnessing extreme violence especially Muslims and Sikhs. They have been largely marginalized in India. This is what India is doing at home, and in the region.
There is no denying the fact that the road to peace in Afghanistan is a challenging and demanding task that needs the strong will of all the stakeholders. The leaders of Afghanistan, whether they are in the government or part of opposition forces, and the regional states whose stakes are at risk due to worsening instability in Afghanistan need to work together aggressively for the success of the peace process to bring perpetual peace in Afghanistan which would eventually result into peace and stability in the entire region. The spoilers of the peace particularly India cannot be overlooked, therefore, all the domestic and regional stakeholders should be cautious.
Since the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, India is striving to find its role in emerging political landscape. The invitation extended by Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval to the regional powers including Pakistan for an NSA-level meeting on Afghanistan was another failed try to make itself relevant player in the case of Afghanistan. Regional powers’ response to India’s NSA-level Afghanistan meeting proved that the premier spoiler in Afghan Peace Process cannot act as a peacemaker until it fixes the mess it has created from the last two decades.
Now, when the Afghan Taliban are dealing with the internal security issues of Afghanistan, the terrorist organisations have intensified their activities alongside the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. If the Taliban fail to eliminate theses terror outfits, it will have impact on the peace and stability of the entire region. Therefore, a few options should be considered to assist the Taliban for cleaning the mess in Afghanistan, so that the territory of Afghanistan must not be used by anyone against any country in future. The world and neighbouring countries i.e Pakistan, China, Iran, Uzbekistan in particular should provide the assistance to Taliban in the form of information, strategy or any type of assistance they need for their counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. Even, the neighbouring countries can send their troops to support the Taliban’s operations against the terror groups inside Afghanistan. For instance, country like Pakistan can provide significant help in this regard, as it has successfully eliminated the terrorist sanctuaries from its soil, and that is unprecedented in the history of fight against terrorism.
In the recent, Oslo talks, the west has again pressed the Taliban to meet the demands. Keeping in view the current humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan where over three million children are suffering from malnutrition, the world needs to wake-up and take immediate measures to address the alarming situation in Afghanistan. Recently, it has been reported that people including women were selling their kidneys to feed their children and themselves. The US needs to understand that the Taliban are now reality in Afghanistan. Freezing Afghan’s assets is hurting the people of Afghanistan, it should immediate release the frozen assets. It’s about fate of the 38m people of Afghanistan who are facing extreme starvation. If the current situation continues to prevail, according to UN Development Program, every Afghan citizen could be living in poverty by mid-2022.
To say the least, the evolving humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is knocking the consciousness of the world’s community. The government of Pakistan and its people have been assisting the Afghan people since this alarming situation began to evolve. But, now the crisis is far worse than before. As the humanitarian situation is getting worse by each passing day, it is high time for the world to take practical steps to avert the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Moreover, as the Taliban are dealing with the internal security issues of Afghanistan, the international community especially the neighbouring countries like Pakistan, China, Iran and Uzbekistan should provide “all-out support” to the Taliban government to eliminate the terror outfits from Afghanistan, which is also one of the demands of the world’s community.