EDITORIAL: In Afghanistan for almost 40 years there was a power struggle. In that violent competition for power the Afghan masses were never or only marginally involved, but it is they who have paid so heavily in terms of life security, political stability and socio-economic well-being. Their misfortune now seems to be coming to its culmination.
Afghanistan is on the brink of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as more than half of Afghans face “acute” food crisis, warn the UN agencies.
According to them, more than 22 million Afghans will suffer food insecurity this winter as a drought driven by climate change adds to the disruption caused by the ‘chaotic’ Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. “We are on a countdown to catastrophe and if we don’t act now, we will have a total disaster on our hands,” warns David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme.
The FAO chief has called for to act efficiently and effectively to speed up the scale up delivery of food in Afghanistan before winter cuts off a large part of country with millions of people. In fact, the looming spectre of famine in northern regions of the country has already begun taking its toll. Hundreds of starving Afghans have begun abandoning their home and hearth and taken shelter in suburbs of bigger cities where they are being helped by the Taliban government, but only meagrely.
The Afghan government on Sunday launched a programme to tackle hunger by offering wheat in exchange for labour; and this is limited both in terms of its scope and viability. The labour would include digging water channels and catchment terraces for snow to ensure regular water supply.
If this is all the Taliban government can do to avert the looming food crisis then the message from the Afghans to the world is ‘please come and help us even when you do not recognise the Taliban government in Kabul’. And quite a few humanitarian organisations and the United Nations have listened to them and begun reaching out to the starving millions, subject to the condition that the government will not monitor and control their excess to the needy.
This is certainly a great service to humanity. Given the massive scale of food insecurity in Afghanistan, however, that is not enough. Conditioning succour to the starving Afghans on recognition of Taliban government tends to undermine the globally growing humanitarian cause. By now it is a known fact that sanctions against a country hurt its people, not its rulers. The Afghans have suffered a lot already; the world owes them an obligation to come to their rescue. Both the Taliban government and those who refuse to recognise them as legitimate rulers need to rethink their stances.
The Taliban had promised to form an inclusive governance and rights to women and they should follow on that. And instead of tightening sanctions against their government the international community must come close to them and win over their confidence. Should Taliban fail, Afghanistan will be a fertile field for growth and empowerment of extremist entities like Islamic State and Al-Qaeda. The world has little choice but to give Taliban a chance, although the Afghanistan outcome for some countries is “distressing”.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021