War can never guarantee peace. Wars are easy to start but difficult to end. War brings destruction, and destruction takes a region away from peace and devastates it geographically and economically. A similar situation has arisen after the recent US-Afghan war.
The United States had taken steps to bring peace to Afghanistan by wreaking havoc. The tables, however, have turned. The United States spent nearly $2 trillion on the Afghan war, but the situation today shows that this money, if it really did come to Afghanistan, has vanished.
Did the Ashraf Ghani government deposit it in offshore accounts, or did all of it go back to the place from where it was approved? Despite the fact that numerous human-rights organizations spoke about the economical situation of Afghanistan weeks before the US withdrawal, have the United States and its allies ever really thought about the economic catastrophe that Afghanistan is facing today?
The plight of the Afghan people has worsened since the withdrawal of US troops. The value of the Afghan currency against foreign currencies continues to drop. Food, medicine and fuel prices are rising.
Is the Taliban government responsible for all this chaos, or does the fault lie with the United States and the previous Afghan government and their unrealistic dreams? These are some of the pressing questions that demand immediate attention.
The plight of the Afghan people since the withdrawal of the United States may never have been witnessed before in the history of the country. About 22.8 million people are at risk of starvation, with 3.2 million children suffering from malnutrition, according to recent reports by UN agencies.
People are dying of hunger, officials are not getting paid, children are forced to beg in the streets and roads, electricity is underproduced, patients are dying in hospitals because of untimely treatment, and despite all of this, the US government has frozen the $9.5 billion assets of the Afghan central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank, which is one of the leading reasons behind all the suffering.
There was a time when human-rights activists from all over the world stood up and campaigned for the salvation of humanity, for the rights of the Afghan people, and after the withdrawal of the United States last August, the hearts of many were trembling for the people of Afghanistan. But now, many of the, are all mysteriously silent.
Surprisingly enough, some of those same people are now questioning the legitimacy of the Taliban government instead of talking about the country’s economic situation.
Well, the Taliban government may not be capable of running the country the way it should be run, but these critics should think at least of those innocent Afghans who have never even seen the war and are now dying of hunger, instead of just pointing fingers at the new government. After all, this matter is really and truly about humanity and human lives, while religion, ethnicity, enmity and war are all secondary.
Last October, the European Union pledged €1 billion (US$1.13 billion) and China pledged 200 million yuan ($31.6 million) in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. Moreover, Pakistan, China, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and several other countries also supplied humanitarian and emergency assistance to the country.
After the recent meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Islamabad, Saudi Arabia announced 1 billion riyals ($266.6 million) and Pakistan $30 million in financial assistance to Afghanistan. In addition, all OIC members have called on the United States to return the frozen assets of Afghanistan’s banks.
If the United States and the rest of the world are truly lovers of humanity and defenders of human rights, then now would be the right time to prove it, and above all, to cooperate with the Afghan people in the pursuit of humanitarian support.
The value of human lives is above that of every war, every interest and every enmity. If the United States especially and the other nations in general really want peace for the region, they must unfreeze the country’s assets and ramp up aid so that the Afghan people do not suffer further loss after 20 years of destruction.
Follow Syed Attaullah Shah on Twitter @SyedAttaullah96