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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Pakistan to formulate a strategy for the rehabilitation of Afghanistan

Like the post-war rehabilitation programs of history, Pakistan under the leadership of Imran Khan is reportedly preparing a strategy to extend financial assistance to its war-torn Western neighbor. Government is to make an appeal to the international community to not leave Afghan population isolated at this time of crisis.

Pakistan is likely to prepare an aid programme for the rehabilitation of its Western neighbor Afghanistan and invite the global community to come and be part of Pakistan’s efforts for helping the war broiled country.

According to National media agency Business Recorder, the federal cabinet has recently discussed how the fallout from the recent regime change and other developments in Afghanistan would impact Pakistan.

It is well known that the senior Pakistani officials have been making public statements asking the world to support Afghanistan as the risk of economic and diplomatic isolation are increasing for the country considering the Taliban’s ascension to power.

In his phone calls with different heads of states, Prime Minister Imran Khan has made this very point that rather than isolating the country, international community must engage with the stakeholders.

Read more: Taliban’s comeback: An inner perspective

In his call to the Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on 24th August, he underlined the importance of engagement by the international community in support of the people of Afghanistan, both to address their humanitarian needs and help in the economic rebuilding of the nation.

He added that peace and reconciliation and an inclusive political solution would contribute to stabilization efforts.

Taliban leadership has time and again promised general amnesty, an inclusive political settlement, protection of women’s rights (as promised by Sharia Law) and assurances not to allow anyone to use their land against any country, all indicative of a moderate approach but the West is still skeptical if the Taliban would walk the talk.

Economic woes of Afghanistan

With the international aid from IMF and World Bank paused, the government’s foreign assets in New York rendered accessible, the economic situation in the country is not going to get any better without support.

Similarly, the Leaders of the G7 said they would judge the Taliban by “their actions, not words.

Last week, several economic reports suggested that the Taliban was unable to get its hands on $10 billion in central bank reserves, because most of the funds were held in New York.

Read more: Afghanistan’s ‘Gen Z’ fears for future and hard-won freedoms

Hans-Jakob Schindler, a German former diplomat who previously worked on Taliban-related sanctions said the economy in Afghanistan, told NBC on 25th August that there may be weeks or a “couple of months” before economic failure. He said: “Then the economy is in deep trouble.”

Former Governor of the Central Bank Ajmal Ahmady said, “They never once talked about … what their economic policy (will be), what their macroeconomic stance is,” he said. “Those types of questions were never asked and … never considered.”

He added, “I’ve never heard of an economist on their team.”

Afghanistan in turmoil, with international aid money, which accounted for approximately 75% of public spending in the country, has dried up, including a $440 million installment due last week from the IMF. But that is far from the only challenge facing the country.

Another major source of funds, remittances from Afghans living and working abroad, amounted to an average of nearly $800 million per year before the Taliban took over. However, the two largest money transmitters operating in the country, Western Union and MoneyGram International, have both suspended operations in Afghanistan, cutting off that source of funds as well.

Read more: Taliban warning: India should remain unbiased in the Afghan issue

Similarly, many contractors such as International NGOs and various Intergovernmental Organizations in Afghanistan which employed many Afghans and were part of the economy as consumers have fled the country, leaving the country in economic woes as the sources which were drawing foreign inflows deplete.

As Banks resume their operations, the citizens are fast to convert the fragile local currency into the US dollars, further devaluing the Afghani, which was being kept stable by the central bank by regular USD auctions.

Pakistan’s calls for support

Appealing to the international community, Pakistan’s newly appointed high commissioner to Australia Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said on 28th August, “Enhanced engagement by the international community will be critical for durable peace and development in Afghanistan. Viability of the Afghan economy after four decades of war and conflict needs to be ensured through “development partnerships”.

Similarly, the External Publicity Wing of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting quoted Ambassador Munir Akram as saying, ““We are consulting with all the regional countries in order to have a coordinated approach on the issue of not only the recognition but going forward, what are the steps that are required to stabilize Afghanistan.”

He added that for the stabilization of Afghanistan we will need to have humanitarian assistance, reviving the economy, inclusive government, and action against terrorism.

In an article in AP news on 29th August, authors Sayed Ziarmal Hashemi, Rahim Faiez, Jill Lawless, and Ellen Knickmeyer argued, “The economic crisis, which predates the Taliban takeover, could give Western nations leverage as they urge Afghanistan’s new rulers to form a moderate, inclusive government and allow people to leave after Tuesday.”

The U.S. and its allies have said they will continue providing humanitarian aid through the U.N. and other partners, but any broader engagement — including development assistance — is likely to hinge on whether the Taliban deliver on their promises of more moderate rule, article read.