Afghanistan Aid Pledge

At the 76th UN General Assembly which took place on Monday, donors pledged more than $1.1 billion to help Afghanistan after Pakistan and the UN stressed on the need for immediate support for the war-ravaged country. At this crucial juncture, it is imperative that past mistakes are not repeated and that the Afghan people are not abandoned. Especially considering how aid flows have been disrupted recently, the international community has a moral obligation to help the Afghan people who have suffered at the hands of war for far too long.

Even prior to the Taliban takeover, 18 million Afghans were dependent on aid. The situation is so dire that every third Afghan is unsure if they will have the next meal. Food security in particular is one of the most pressing issues at the moment that needs to be addressed. It is encouraging to note that about a third of the $606 million being sought will be used by the UN World Food Programme. However, more will need to be done considering how aid has only been pledged thus far and that its disbursal will take time.

Islamabad and Beijing have already offered their help. In addition to offering manpower to assist the transitional government setup, Pakistan has sent supplies such as cooking oil and medicines to authorities in Kabul. Meanwhile, China announced last week that it would send $31 million worth of food and health supplies to Afghanistan.

It is also important to initiate an urgent discussion regarding the unfreezing of foreign reserves and the use of the USD to facilitate trade. As FM Qureshi has rightly stated, today’s Afghanistan offers an important opportunity as it begins its journey towards sustainable peace and development. The international community needs to take a long-term view of the situation and must accordingly adopt a pragmatic approach. Politics must be set aside at the moment so that a humanitarian disaster can be avoided.

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