A malnourished Afghan child is treated at a hospital in Kandahar. Photo: AFP / Murteza Khaliqi / Anadolu Agency

Actual defeat is not that you were unable to achieve the goal for which you started a war, but when you ransack the assets of the rival nation. War happens, defeat is part of it. But when you, after losing a war, escalate financial abuse on the already-exploited nation and force it to the point of starvation, you become a despot in the eyes of the world.

In modern times, economic warfare is more powerful than military warfare.

The most powerful in today’s world are not those who commit the most genocide, nor those who carry the labels of authoritarian oppression on (economically and militarily) poorer countries. On the contrary, the most powerful nations are those that stand at the forefront in the economic field, so that along with advancement in technology and science, they can provide commodities and safety to their people.

Additionally, instead of attacking weaker countries, the powerful nations are always ready to challenge their equipollent countries in the economic field, and instead of getting into a war with them, provide economic and humanitarian “assistance” to the weaker countries of the world in a time of need.

The era we are going through today is marked by one of the worst economic crises in history. The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated human lives everywhere, making life more challenging. Almost all the countries of the world are going through economic problems due to efforts to control the epidemic. Many Third World countries have been almost ruined financially.

Afghanistan tops the list. Afghanistan is on the brink of disaster due to continuous wars for the last three decades. All the beauty of the country has been ruined by an incessant series of air and ground attacks, first by the Soviet Union and then by the United States and its NATO allies. Houses have become cemeteries and one or another member of every family has lost their life to gratuitous war. Who is responsible for this and why?

This nation, which has been living under the shadow of war for 20 years, is once again struggling for life on the economic battlefield. Some are selling their children to make a living, and others are leaving the country to go abroad dreaming of a better life.

After the military failure, US President Joe Biden recently stated that some of the $7 billion assets of the Afghan central bank that were frozen by the United States after the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul will be distributed among the families who lost their loved ones in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Journalists and political intellectuals around the world were shocked on February 11 by Biden’s statement that on the one hand, because of the war, Afghans were made miserable, and on the other hand, because of an incident in which not a single Afghan citizen was involved, they were deprived of their assets.

Afghanistan is starving. At a time when Afghanistan needs humanitarian assistance, it would be a crime to use its existing assets for your own benefit.

This $7 billion is the asset of the Afghan central bank that is required for the banking, investment, and financial constancy of Afghanistan in these crucial and traumatic economic situations. It has nothing to do with the Taliban, the money belongs to the Afghan nation and is a result of 20 years of investment and part of its foreign-exchange reserves, and that is why this should be considered a direct attack on humanity.

Doing so would not only deprive Afghanistan of its assets, but could also lead to another crisis within the current crisis. Afghanistan’s currency could collapse and government employees, already deprived of salaries, could suffer further.

The only thing that is needed for a nation to get back on track after a war is the money already in the banks of that country. If you confiscate it, you might be seen as an enemy of humanity.

Follow Syed Attaullah Shah on Twitter @SyedAttaullah96

Syed Attaullah Shah has gained a Bachelor of Science in English from International Islamic University Islamabad. He is a blogger and freelance journalist interested in Pakistani-Afghan affairs and the social issues of Pakistan.