NSA assails world’s ‘stand by and watch’ strategy on Afghanistan

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ISLAMABAD: National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf on Wednesday denounced the world’s ‘wait and watch’ policy on recognising Afghanistan’s Taliban regime as a flawed strategy that might push the war-ravaged country further towards economic collapse.

Speaking at a media conference, Mr Yusuf said: “Wait and see means collapse.”

He recalled that the West made an equivalent mistake within the 1990s that led to economic collapse, civil war, and terrorism . The Western leaders, he said, had acknowledged the error and pledged to not repeat it.

Taliban earlier this month announced an interim government after taking up Kabul on Assumption . However, the planet has been cautious about engaging with the new administration.

Countries have said they might first see Taliban’s policies — especially with reference to human rights, women, taking other political actors along, and terrorist groups present in Afghanistan — before according legitimacy to the new regime. Some actions of the new government have added thereto scepticism.

Afghanistan’s economy, which has remained heavily hooked in to foreign assistance, has been teetering on the sting of collapse because most of the donors have blocked the new regime’s access to funds. The US has frozen Afghan assets worth $9 billion that are held in its banks.

The future of international assistance depends on recognition of the Taliban government by the international community.

Economic troubles have aggravated the humanitarian crisis within the war-ravaged country due to food and medicine shortages. A donors’ conference hosted by the United Nations earlier in the week raised $1.1 billion for humanitarian aid for Afghanistan.

Mr Yusuf said: “Humanitarian assistance may be a stopgap arrangement that doesn’t equate with governance, (and) institutional and economic support needed to survive in conditions facing Afghanistan.”

Pakistan has been the Taliban regime’s most ardent supporter within the current crisis. It not only shipped relief goods to Afghanistan, but has also been forcefully advocating international recognition for Taliban.

The security adviser, however, said Pakistan neither had enough resources to satisfy Taliban government’s needs nor could it grant it legitimacy by itself. “It is for the West to try to to so,” he further said.

He recalled that the West had remained engaged with the Taliban until recently. Their engagement, he said, resulted within the Doha agreement and helped the evacuation of foreign nationals from Afghanistan after the autumn of Ashraf Ghani’s government.

He said it had been within the world’s own interest to interact with Taliban, especially on their counterterrorism concerns. they ought to talk on to the Taliban on their concerns, whether or not they are about human rights, inclusive government, or other issues.

“If the planet is curious about this conversation, it must happen directly with the new government. For influencing and moulding governance within the way the planet wants, it should have conversation with them. Without engagement that might not be possible,” he maintained.

Mr Yusuf warned that the results of abandoning Afghanistan would be dire. The country, he feared, could once more become a secure haven for terrorists.

He said: “If abandonment happens there would be a security vacuum (in Afghanistan). You already know ISIS (the militant Islamic State group) is already present there, Pakistani Taliban are there, Al Qaeda is there. Why can we risk a security vacuum?”

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