Amid intensifying geopolitical intrigue, Afghanistan presents dismal picture with looming humanitarian challenges. Some 23 million people are in a state of humanitarian emergency. The economic situation is not the only problem facing Afghanistan today, but it is one of the most urgent problems, and above all one where action is possible and must be taken quickly. The larger crisis that is looming is the danger of a complete economic collapse. Cash is needed to revive the economy to pay salaries, restore small businesses, and revive the banking system. The establishment of the UN’s Special Trust Fund is not sufficient enough. Similar mechanisms will be set up quickly to scale up the flow of money and stabilize the Afghan economy. Thus, plethora of crisis posed unprecedented challenges to the future human security of the country.
As matter of fact, The consequences of a major humanitarian crisis and economic collapse in Afghanistan will be horrendous; massive human suffering, the outflow of millions of additional Afghan refugees, the likelihood of chaos and further conflict and reinforcement of Daesh and other terrorist groups. When the millions of Afghan refugees start flowing across our borders, as Pakistan already hosting 4 million Afghan refugees already will not be able to take more, they will have to go elsewhere. These are consequences which the international community must avoid.
Although, on its part, Pakistan supported the humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan in several ways, including by facilitating the evacuation and relocation of international staff, and the establishment of a humanitarian corridor for the delivery of relief goods through air and land routes. Indeed, Pakistan is doing all it can as it committed $30 million in assistance to Afghanistan. Wheat, rice, emergency medical supplies and other essential items are being sent to Afghanistan. It has also lifted duties on imports of Afghan commodities. Furthermore, facilitating transit trade; providing essential medicines, refurbishing Afghan hospitals. Pakistan is also facilitating the WFP’s delivery of 10,000 tons of wheat flour, and a humanitarian air service has been set up – an air bridge – between Islamabad and Kabul.
During the recent visit of the acting Foreign Minister of the Kabul authorities, accompanied by the acting Finance, Trade and Aviation Ministers to Islamabad, Pakistan agreed to provide training for doctors, nurses and paramedics, in ATC, aviation safety and other fields, and other steps to help stabilize Afghanistan’s economic governance.
Pakistan has also taken concrete steps towards Afghan stability. It also initiated the platform of the six neighbouring countries plus Russia which has met twice and will meet again early next year in China.The aim is to promote a regional consensus on steps to normalize the situation in Afghanistan, especially through economic integration and connectivity.
Pakistan had already reaffirm the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan and in ensuring that the territory of Afghanistan is not used a platform or a safe-haven by any terrorist group or organization.
As far as global institutional engagement is concerned, Pakistan instrumented key diplomatic engagements for the economic packages, averting humanitarian and refugee’s crisis with multinational forums such as SCO, World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Asian Development Bank, European Union (EU), Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
During annual Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting, Pakistan also urged the international community to avoid the mistake of abandoning Afghanistan, adopt a pragmatic approach, and sustain engagement. At this critical juncture, the Afghan nation must be helped to walk firmly along the path of peace, progress, and prosperity.
To address the security concerns, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) head visit Afghanistan, CIA’s chief visit to Pakistan and multinational: Pakistan China, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan Turkmenistan, and Russian intelligence heads gathering is another vital development for Afghanistan, and regional security dynamics. Henceforth, it can be argued that Pakistan’s stance, efforts and engagement for Afghanistan show rational intent and contributions for Afghanistan’s stability and sustainable progress. However, the aforementioned policy imperatives are reductionist strategies that may settle the dust, somehow in larger canvas, Afghanistan’s situation demands a broad-band and farfetched policy model from Islamabad. For that Policymakers and stakeholders have to introspect the pre-existing strategic and policy manual, further revamping would benefit Pakistan, and region. In account of this, a re-oriented multilayered approach that can preserve the national interest and secure positive-sum gains for Afghanistan is vitally essential.
The role of Pakistan is vital for timely structuring and mediating a strategic regional support package for Afghanistan, in this regard Pakistan can engage the Middle Eastern states and other allies such as China, Russia and Turkey to provide Afghanistan a much-needed economic relief.
Regional financial institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, BRICS Bank, and Islamic Development Bank, hold significant amount of liquidity, Pakistan should initiate diplomatic maneuverings for the “humanitarian assistance package” loans schemes for the Afghanistan to avert the chances of sudden economic collapse that may push the state into civil warfare.
Pakistan must take multilateral initiatives for convening SCO session to discuss the Afghanistan situation. As out of 150 ethnic groups living in the SCO region, around 30 are living in Afghanistan; therefore, SCO has a vital role to play for the conflict reconciliation, development and for building confidence and trust; and developing empathy among indigenous groups.
As further improvisation, dedicated fund could be held for the reconstruction and development of the war-torn nation. Projects like Peshawar to Kabul motorway and value addition to Afghan fruits and vegetables in Rashakai Economic Zone could be started immediately.
As the stability and confidence of the new regime, the private investors will start coming back, and the contribution of internal revenue generation will start increasing. The security situation in Afghanistan will remain the key factor for providing safe passage for transit trade, regional connectivity, and mineral development. In long term policy, efforts should be made to further strengthen the efficacy of the border management regime and contingency plans should be taken to ensure internal security to tackle the evolving security situation along the Pak-Afghan border. Security establishment must formulate a mechanism (covert/overt) through utility bargaining chips to address domestic security concerns, stemming threats from Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan,and Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) and other outfits across the border.
Nevertheless, The interim government has also reaffirmed assurances in all formats that Afghanistan’s soil will not be used against any country; that it will take effective action against Daesh/IS-K. It has sought assistance in countering the menace of drug trafficking. It has also called for unfreezing of Afghanistan’s assets. This would be the best affirmation of solidarity with the people of Afghanistan.