UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has urged the international community to help revive the Afghan economy and immediately provide $4.2 billion to the war-torn country for meeting its humanitarian needs.
“We need to revive the Afghan economy — its banking system — and for that purpose the Afghan assets which are held abroad need to be injected back into the Afghan financial system,” Ambassador Munir Akram said on Friday.
He urged the international community also to fulfil the UN secretary-general’s appeal for $4.2bn in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
The appeal for unfreezing the Afghan assets was directly addressed to the United States which froze $7bn of Afghan assets in its custody after the Taliban retook Kabul in 2021.
Calls for unfreezing Afghan assets to address humanitarian crisis
Suggesting a “pragmatic approach” in dealing with Afghanistan, Mr Akram said the international community’s first priority should be bringing an end to the humanitarian crisis in that country.
Peace in Afghanistan was of “vital concern” to Pakistan, said the envoy, adding his country had hosted more than 3 million Afghan refugees for more than 40 years now.
“We know all the legal arguments about holding these resources back and why and wherefore,” said Amb Akram while referring to the US decision to froze Afghan assets.
“But you need a roadmap to see how to rebuild the Afghan economy,” he added, noting that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation was giving careful thought as to how to accomplish the task of injecting the Afghan assets, held abroad, back into the country’s system.
If the humanitarian crisis does not end, there would be another flow of refugees that Afghanistan’s neighbours would have to accommodate, he said.
“So, we need to deal with the humanitarian situation,” he said.
Pakistan, he said, was also concerned with terrorism emanating from Afghanistan. “We are still suffering attacks from across the border from the [banned] Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which receives sponsorship from other sources,” he pointed out, noting that Al Qaeda was a shadow of its past.
He said the real threat came from the militant Islamic State group and from TTP.
“Even as a closest neighbour of Afghanistan, with shared culture and history, we still have difficulty in dealing with them because there are other factors at play, and we know what they are.”
Ambassador Akram said Pakistan was with the international community on its concerns about the rights of women and inclusivity in Afghanistan. “But one also has to see the reality of Afghan society, of what is Afghanistan,” he emphasised.
Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2022