Afghanistan — a Looming Human Crisis

Atiqueur Rehman

Ever since the US forces withdrew from Afghanistan, global and regional powers are playing hard to have an upper hand over the Taliban-led interim government in the country. While the US had decided to leave the station out of its own interests, the manner in which its military evicted Afghanistan was not only chaotic but downright embarrassing. It is yet to be seen whether it was a deliberate attempt to destabilise the region through human and refugee crises.

How it may pan out for global and regional politics is a different story altogether but the fact that Afghan people remain the real victims in this four-decade-long war in their country cannot be denied. Two generations have grown up amid fierce fighting, first with the USSR and then with the US in War against Terrorism, which stretched over two decades. Afghanistan turned into a battleground for global proxies and went into a civil war after the US attack in 2001.

Huffington Post, a credible US online news service and blog, reported on November 11 that 50,000 Afghan refugees are living in limbo on American bases. Pentagon says 40 per cent of these Afghans are children. These relocated Afghan nationals are based on eight bases in the US; the maximum of them are at Fort McCoy. These homeless people are waiting for food, warm clothing and immigration facilitation at the door of the sole superpower.

Millions of sufferers are facing an acute shortage of food and other basic amenities at home in Afghanistan. The WHO has called it an alarming situation. It might be another humanitarian crisis-in-making just next to Pakistan. In recent weeks, international donors have pledged more than $1.1 billion to help Afghanistan. Thousands of Afghans are fleeing the country daily to escape the poverty and hunger that has worsened since the Taliban took power. To fortify the miseries of Afghans and Taliban rule, the US has frozen nearly $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank. Da Afghan Bank has $9.5 billion in assets, a sizeable portion of which is in accounts with the New York Federal Reserve and US-based financial institutions.

Humanitarian assistance to the civil population in Afghanistan is a real issue, which may turn into a refugee problem for central Asian states, Pakistan, Iran and China, thus, creating a serious security concern for the whole region.

The deteriorating situation in Afghanistan has serious implications for the entire region. Geographically, it is a landlocked country that borders a few central Asian states, Iran, Russia and Pakistan. It provides an opening to central Asian states through Pakistan via Gwadar port to the Indian ocean. India can indirectly reach Afghanistan via Chahbahar in Iran and also through Tajikistan. So the proximity of Afghanistan provides an opportunity for external players to have their influence over Pakistan through their proxies inside Afghanistan. Therefore, Pakistan was, Pakistan is and Pakistan will be the most affected country due to unstable Afghanistan.

In the recently held 26th SCO summit, the Afghanistan crisis remained the top agenda. Chinese President exhorted the need for member states to step up coordination to help Afghans and make full use of existing platforms like SCO and facilitate a smooth transition in Afghanistan. He also asked member countries to encourage Afghanistan to put in place a broad-based and inclusive political framework, adopt prudent and moderate domestic and foreign policies, resolutely fight all forms of terrorism, live in amity with its neighbours and truly embark on a path of peace, stability and development.

After the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan, India is the biggest loser in terms of burning its assets in Afghanistan who were carrying out terrorism in Pakistan. India is desperate to again use Afghan soil against Pakistan. During two years-long peace talks between the US and the Taliban, India used all its proxies to create hurdles in talks. Indian support to the Northern Alliance in Panjsher valley is a testimony of her nefarious designs to obstruct peace in Afghanistan. India has been supporting the Northern Alliance through Tajikistan. India hosted an eight-nation security dialogue, a few days ago, on the Afghan situation. Besides India, which was the host country, Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan also participated in the dialogue. Afghanistan, Pakistan and China skipped the meeting. Indian moot on Afghanistan issue is an effort to get back in the game but there are no visible signs or declaration after meeting that India has been successful. Analysts believe that India, in any case, would like to intensify the refugee crisis instead of resolving it. During the peak of the war against terrorism, India fully exploited the situation and compelled Pakistan, through coercive techniques, to pull back its forces from the western border and commit them on the Line of Control. Indian forces committed 12312 Cease-Fire Violations on the Line of Control between 2014 and 2020.

The ISIS has emerged biggest threat along with the humanitarian crisis for the Taliban. The presence of ISIS and TTP in Afghanistan are a worry for Pakistan.

Pakistan has taken utmost measures to secure its border and assist the Afghan interim government to move in positive directions. Its security forces took all necessary safeguards to avoid spillover effects of ensuing instability in Afghanistan, especially border regions.

Post-August 15 situation, crossing points at Ghulam Khan, Angoor Adda, Torkham, Karlachi, Chamman and Badini remained open to ease the move of displaced people. Pakistan was the biggest base in the region for the evacuation of 5538 foreigners from 28 countries.

The evacuation operation was facilitated through 113 Flights from Afghanistan.

Since 2013, Pakistan has substantially improved the security inside Pakistan and also on the Pak-Afghan border. Then, as many as 90 major terrorist incidents were happening every year, which has been reduced to 13 in 2020. During the last 20 years, Pakistani forces have carried out 1237 major/minor military operations and cleared 46000 sq km territory. There was no border coordination mechanism on Pak-Afg Bdr Before 2012. Dozens of mechanisms and small standard operating procedures have been put in place since 2014.

Pakistan has chalked out a comprehensive strategy to manage western borders; initiating work on various projects, including capacity-building of frontier corps (a force of roughly 60 thousand raised to guard the international border). Moreover, the border control mechanism has been technologically upgraded to include surveillance & biometrics. More than 90 per cent of the fencing of the Pak-Afghan border has been completed. Fencing is also in progress on the Pak- Iran Border. On Pak Afghan Border, 1238 border posts/forts exist on the Pakistani side of the border.

(Courtesy Daily Times, Pakistan)