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After months of waiting, the United States has finally decided to release $7 billion frozen funds for Afghanistan to avert a humanitarian crisis. However, it is rather preposterous to note that the US will withhold half of the amount to settle lawsuits and pay victims of 9/11 terror attacks.
The US waged a two-decade long war in Afghanistan but abruptly withdrew forces in August last year, paving the way for a Taliban takeover. It spend trillions of dollars on the war and failed to build basic infrastructure in the impoverished nation. Today, Afghanistan is in the midst of a worsening humanitarian crisis that threatens millions of lives and there is a serious risk of famine. Now that the guns are silent, what is required is urgent action to help address basic needs.
The UN estimates that 97 percent of Afghans could fall into poverty this year. This situation is so desperate that people work hours to get a loaf of bread and are even compelled to sell their children. Amid the life and death situation, the US and European countries assured to prevent a collapse of the social system and revive the economy but need to take further steps.
Afghanistan needs a viable economy because humanitarian assistance will never be sufficient. But unfortunately, the economy cannot function due to Western sanctions, asset freezes and economic blockades. The country faces a severe cash crisis and has not paid wages to public employees for months. Afghanistan also needs a functioning central bank with cash injections which should albeit be free of Taliban control.
The only viable solution was releasing the frozen funds but US has committed gross injustice to withhold them. These state assets belong to the Afghan people. The US needs to return all funds to their rightful owners immediately. Any apprehensions that funds will fall into the hands of the Taliban are misconstrued as UN agencies can be involved in providing humanitarian assistance.
An unstable Afghanistan does not serve anyone’s interest. The US needs to lift sanctions that are choking the Afghan economy before it sparks a migration crisis and heightens risk of terrorism. The West should learn its lessors and ease debilitating sanctions to save the lives of Afghan people.