Why does the World Need to Step up for Afghanistan?

Afghanistan is once again at the brink of becoming a warzone. The onus is on the West once again. Taliban blitz coupled with US disinterest has brought a nightmare for the citizens of Afghanistan.

For Taliban, opposing and fighting against an incumbent government is altogether a different ball game than running a country. Once thriving upon democratic fundamentals and strengthening civil society, Afghans are now looking at an abyss. Between the only two options of either leaving their country or suffering from the Taliban wrath, Afghans can foresee the dark days that lie ahead.

The looming disaster is not of a natural making. The United States (US) has once again lobbied against the Taliban and has successfully frozen Afghanistan’s central bank reserve abroad. This has stymied the Taliban from running the economy. At the economic front, it is also at the brink of collapse. With no recognition from the international community, an already struggling Afghan economy will further nosedive.

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For the past many decades, relief in Afghanistan has only come through humanitarian aid and western donations. The country’s precarious economy is plagued with money laundering, opium trade and other illicit economic ventures, providing little room to be reinvigorated into a sustainable economy.

Equally challenging is the resultant refugee crisis as a result of the Afghan population slipping below the poverty line. The brain drain as well as issues at border zones will create further complications for the Taliban. Countries like Pakistan and Iran have already exempted themselves from facing spillover of Afghan refugees.

Furthermore, as inflation skyrockets in Afghanistan, another threat is of terrorism. Unemployment will welcome more recruits towards terrorist outfits. It should be understood that the presence of the IS Khorasan chapter in Afghanistan is a reality. As Taliban become incumbent government, they will have to devise policies and plans to contain non-state actors who have been emboldened as a result of US withdrawal and Taliban takeover.

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These looming disasters can only be evaded if both sides decide that instead of geopolitical ambitions, the top priority in Afghanistan is to provide relief to its people and prevent the country from collapsing. Instead of delegitimizing the Taliban, the West must show acceptance for Taliban on a conditional basis of Taliban forming an inclusive government with equal opportunity for women and ensuring an end to terrorism emanating from Afghanistan.

The Taliban on the other hand must understand their dependence on western economic relief and the rotten state of the Afghan economy. As a result, they must implement the fundamentals of inclusivity. They must not curb opposition and provide equal opportunities to women and girls. It is only then that they can show the world their capability of governing Afghanistan.

The relief of $1.2 billion has been allocated by the European Union (EU) to prevent Afghanistan from collapsing and to abate a refugee crisis is a step in the right direction.

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However, Taliban must also show proclivity for dialogue. They must understand that the Afghanistan of today is altogether different from the one they had ruled two decades ago. The Afghans of today have been raised in a warzone and fully understand the consequences of a government collapse.

Moreover, they have also tasted the dividends of democracy and civil rights under previous governments. It would take the Taliban much more than curbing citizen rights to make them docile this time.

The writer is a Computer Science graduate from LUMS. He can be reached at shanawaraziz@gmail.com

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