Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Pakistan: Afghanistan Hurtling Toward Collapse

Sun 24 Oct 2021 | 03:15 PM
Ahmad El-Assasy

If the international community does not act quickly, Afghanistan will quickly devolve into chaos, Pakistani officials warned on Saturday.

The hardline Islamist Taliban organization deposed the Western-backed government in August, resulting in the abrupt cessation of billions of dollars in help to Afghanistan's aid-dependent economy.

Since August, many governments and multilateral institutions have cut development money while increasing humanitarian help, unwilling to legitimize the new Taliban authority.

Afghans sell their personal things to raise money in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 20. They cite unemployment, malnutrition, and the need for money to flee the country as reasons.

Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan's Information Minister, later told Reuters that direct contact with the Taliban was the only way to avoid a humanitarian disaster, and he asked for the release of billions of dollars in Afghan assets locked abroad.

"Are we going to push Afghanistan into chaos or are we going to try and stabilize the country?" he said in Dubai.

He added that engagement will promote the protection of human rights and the establishment of a democratic, constitutional government.

Pakistan has close relations to the Taliban and has been accused of helping the group during its 20-year war against the US-backed government in Kabul, claims that Islamabad denies. The Taliban have yet to demonstrate that they have abandoned the harsh policies that characterized their earlier reign of terror from 1996 to 2001.

The conditions in Kabul were not conducive to European countries reopening embassies. Instead, Qatar, a key mediator between the West and the Taliban, would see increased diplomatic action.

This week, Swedish development minister Per Olsson Fridh met with Qatari officials in Doha, Qatar's capital.

However, Chaudhry believes it is past time for the US, China, and other major powers to establish a framework for formal recognition of Afghanistan's new leadership and the lifting of UN sanctions against Taliban members, including some members of the new government.

This, together with direct economic assistance, was the only way to avert instability, he said, adding: "The watch on this bomb is already clicking."