By Imtiaz Ahmad
After US withdrawal, Afghanistan’s economy was crippled and the new regime of Afghan Taliban strived to revive the depressed economy with limited resources. Immediately, Taliban regime called international community for aid but in vain and in that situation Pakistan took initiative and facilitated its Afghan brothers with every possibility and help to make Afghanistan stand on its feet. Pakistan is the one who as a regional neighbour, always supported and assisted Afghanistan at every forum whether it is OIC or UN, Afghan-US dialogue, trade issues, refugees’ issue, flood calamity, earthquake, war and terror or US withdrawal etc.
Unfortunately, on June 22, 2022 Afghanistan was hit by catastrophic earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 killing 1150 people, injuring 1600 people and destroying more than 3000 homes in Paktika and Khost provinces, adding more sufferings. Seismic tremors were also felt in Pakistan and India. After the devastation, Taliban appealed for international help for the rescue efforts. Pakistan’s Ambassador to UN Munir Akram also at United Nations Security Council said that policies of Taliban scrutinized and “We must be clear about our objectives,” adding that the primary objective must be to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan. “The international community must come to the aid of Afghans, rising above political considerations”. He added that Pakistan especially concerned about the terrorist attacks emanating from Afghanistan that are sponsored and financed by our adversary, India. Drought, floods, disease outbreaks affecting both people and livestock, as well as natural disasters like the earthquake, are further deepening vulnerabilities. “We cannot exclude the possibility of increased instability if peoples’ rights are denied and if they do not see themselves in their government,” he said.
OIC members termed for sustained engagement, including in recovery, reconstruction, education, financial and material assistance, Ambassador Akram said, reiterating that Afghanistan’s access to its financial resources will be pivotal to preventing economic collapse and urging the UNSC to ensure that targeted sanctions do not impede the provision of humanitarian aid.
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in compliance with PM Shehbaz Sharif’s directives on June 24, 2022 delivered 8 trucks loading with tents, tarpaulin, blankets and medicine, as humanitarian assistance to Afghan earthquake effectees. On 25 June, 2022, a C-130 Pak military cargo plane carrying relief goods for Afghanistan’s earthquake-affected people landed at the Khost airport, the relief goods handed by Mansoor Ahmad, Pak Envoy to Kabul to Afghan Minister of Refugees. Additionally, 19 doctors of KPK government are also stationed at Khost Airport from 23 June with 3 Ambulances & mobile hospital to treat injured & refer serious to hospitals in Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistani NGOs also participated in the relief activities as Al-Khidmat Foundation Pakistan has also handed over five trucks of relief goods to Afghan Consulate for earthquake affected areas. In past, Pakistani government and a Pakistani charity had also sent 13 trucks carrying food, tents, life-saving medicines and other essential items to Afghanistan.
The economic situation will be the worst if international community might not take any immediate action as economic crisis is perhaps the single most important issue in Afghanistan, and a potential driver of conflict and misery. It is estimated the economy contracted by up to 40% since August, unemployment could reach 40% this year, while the official poverty rate could climb as high as 97%. Afghanistan also remains highly vulnerable to future climate and geopolitical shocks and in post recent earthquake the economic situation of Afghanistan is more deteriorating.
In the coming month, the UN will seek to promote political consultation and inclusion, and engagement with the de-facto authorities will continue that will help in revival of Afghan economy. President Biden is also monitoring developments from a deadly earthquake in Afghanistan and has ordered his administration to assess US response options.
After Taliban’s return to power, billions of dollars in aid and assets were frozen by the International Community that plunged Afghanistan deeper into the humanitarian crises and near famine. Meanwhile, in this post earthquake situation Pakistan has opened its border in the northwest to transport critically injured Afghans to hospitals in Pakistan. Pakistan has warned a humanitarian crisis, after Afghanistan was hit by the earthquake, as human sufferings, Afghan refugees’ influx and revival of internal conflicts engulfed Afghanistan, if the issue has not been addressed. Moreover, international community and regional states needs to take concrete steps to facilitate Afghans.
Imtiaz Ahmad, a Peshawar based independent writer, can be reached at [email protected]