Amid Russia-Ukraine tensions, don’t forget Afghanistan

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The genie is out of the bottle now. President Putin has officially directed his troops to demilitarise Ukraine, a move many analysts worldwide are referring to as the start of the next big war on the European continent.  Putin’s body language shows that he is willing and has the capacity to go to any extent to protect the Russian sphere of influence and deter NATO’s eastward expansion. Whatever the strategy is to be made to counter Putin’s actions must take into account this fact.

This crisis has diverted the world’s attention away from the looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, something the region can’t afford to ignore. Barely does any media channel or newspaper report on Afghanistan’s situation on priority since they have got a more thrilling topic themed on awe and terror.

On February 11, the people of Afghanistan witnessed the worst betrayal in decades. On this day, Biden struck an executive order to allocate $3.5 billion out of the frozen $7 billion to the families of the victims of 9/11. This decision has clouded the awe that viewers experienced after watching the five seasons of ‘Money Heist’, a popular Netflix thriller. Biden’s executive order has unveiled the real side of Biden’s administration’s narrative of human rights, a mantra it uses to shoot sanctions against different countries. Moreover, it has disregarded the fact that the decision will cripple Afghanistan’s already paralyzed central bank which will lead to the worst humanitarian crisis.

The decision will not, in any way, help the USA in achieving its stated goal of ‘an inclusive government which will ensure human rights. Rather, it would add fuel to the fire of revenge Afghan people have for all the players who played Chess on Afghanistan’s board. It is the people of Afghanistan who will suffer the most from the strikes of such an executive order, not the Taliban who the USA wants to mend ways. The Biden administration’s ingenuity and intelligence could only come up with the idea of a ‘money heist’.

António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, last night in a tweet pleaded the Putin to stop military aggression in Ukraine. Seems like the United Nations has made a habit of waiting for the situation to get worse and once things get out of control, it starts to maintain the status quo. The same happened in the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s when despite the clear evidence of Saddam Hussain using chemical weapons against Iranians, United Nations waited for seven to eight years to condemn the Iraqi regime. United Nations, in the case of Afghanistan, is again treading on this unproductive path. It has done little to alleviate the suffering of the people of Afghanistan.

International organizations like United Nations and other stakeholders like the United States need to clearly delineate the objectives they want to achieve in Pakistan. If they want to help Afghans, signing an executive order to seize their money should not even be an option in their playbook. If they want to establish an inclusive government, they need to onboard the relevant stakeholders and list the possible solutions, after all, the Taliban would also like to sit on the table since they need legitimacy and financial support to run their government.

The world leaders need to shun their hypocritical approach towards the looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Before the lava of this volcano erupts and spreads in the whole region and clouds the atmosphere with uncertainty and chaos, the leaders and international organizations need to collectively work to build fire breaks by channeling much-needed humanitarian help to Afghanistan so that its people should not suffer once again.

Russia-Ukraine war has just begun. This crisis is not going to end sooner. If the crisis starts piling up, the world will have very limited options to settle them.

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