ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Saturday expressed disagreement with the United States decision to release $3.5 billion for compensation to families of 9/11 victims from the total $7 billion frozen Afghan foreign assets, saying utilisation of the held funds should be the sovereign decision of Afghanistan.

Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar, while responding to media queries about US President Joe Biden’s signing of an executive order giving half of the $7 billion in frozen Afghan assets to Afghanistan, while keeping the other half for victims of the 9/11 terror attacks, said that Pakistan’s principled position on the frozen Afghan foreign bank reserves remains that these are owned by the Afghan nation and these should be released.

“The utilisation of Afghan funds should be the sovereign decision of Afghanistan,” he said, adding that Pakistan has seen the US decision to unfreeze the Afghan assets held by the US banks to release $3.5 billion for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and $3.5 billion for compensation to families of 9/11 victims.

Over the past several months, he added that Pakistan has been consistently emphasising the need for international community to quickly act to address the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan and to help revive the Afghan economy, as the two are inextricably linked.

“Finding ways to unfreeze the Afghan foreign reserves urgently would help address the humanitarian and economic needs of the Afghan people,” he added.

US plans to free half of $7bn frozen Afghan funds for aid, remainder to stay in US

He asserted that the Afghan people are facing grave economic and humanitarian challenges and the international community must continue to play its important and constructive role in alleviating their sufferings. “Time is of the essence,” he added.

After months of waiting and repeated calls from the international community, US President Joe Biden, Friday, signed an executive order giving half of the $7 billion in frozen Afghan assets to Afghanistan, while keeping the other half for victims of the 9/11 terror attacks.

However, Afghans rejected the decision and Kabul witnessed protests demonstrations on Saturday to condemn the US president’s decision.

Afghan central bank – Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) – also issued a press release on Saturday and opposed President Biden’s decision.

It stated that the DAB, as Central Bank of Afghanistan, which is responsible to preserve and manage the International Foreign Exchange (FX) Reserves of the country as per the law, read the content of president of the United States of America (USA)’s executive order on FX reserves of DAB held in the USA and expressed; “1. Objectives of FX Reserves: As per the law and relevant regulations, FX reserves of Afghanistan are used to implement monetary policy, facilitate international trade and stabilize financial sector.

  1. Ownership of FX Reserves: The real owners of these reserves are people of Afghanistan. These reserves were not and are not the property of governments, parties and groups and is never used as per their demand and decisions.

  2. Management of forex reserves: Considering the specified objectives, the FX reserves of Afghanistan is managed based on the international practices. Condition of these reserves is regularly and precisely monitored by DAB. A certain portion of these reserves are invested in the USA as per the accepted rules to be secure and be available to DAB for achieving the determined objectives.

Therefore, DAB considers the latest decision of the US on blocking forex reserves and allocating them to irrelevant purposes, injustice to the people of Afghanistan and will never accept if the forex reserves of Afghanistan is paid under the name of compensation or humanitarian assistance to others and wants the reversal of the decision and release of all FX reserves of Afghanistan.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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