Can the OIC avoid the Afghan crisis?
Afghanistan’s political, social and economic conditions have remained unpredictable since the fall of Kabul in August this year.
After the US withdrawal, the dilemma of political recognition and Taliban legitimacy put Afghanistan in a kind of limbo. The Taliban are under crippling pressure to gain political legitimacy and maintain order amid rapidly deteriorating conditions in the country.
Afghanistan is heavily dependent on foreign aid and faces a looming humanitarian crisis after billions of dollars in Afghan central bank reserves were frozen. Obviously, they cannot move from one day to the next to a functioning indigenous economy. Foreign aid effectively served as an artificial bubble, without which the Afghan economy collapsed.
Pakistan understands that the situation is quickly becoming unmanageable and with the harsh winter, more than 22 million people will face food shortages and more than three million children will be undernourished. Although Pakistan has sent 50,000 tonnes of wheat, along with medicine and relief supplies to Afghanistan, it is a drop in the ocean compared to the real needs of the Afghan people. The policy of abandonment, practiced by the international community in the 1990s, has benefited neither the Afghan people nor the region. It is only through commitment and incentives that the Taliban can be brought to fulfill the promises they made earlier regarding respect for human rights.
The consequences of ignoring the crisis in Afghanistan will be civil war and unrest, famine, widespread disease and an exodus of people resettling in neighboring countries. This puts a lot of pressure on countries like Pakistan, which are already hosting millions of Afghan refugees. This is mainly the reason why Pakistan has been so insistent in urging the international community and the countries of the region to find a solution to the Afghan crisis.
Pakistan has also opened border crossings and speeded up visa applications, alongside previous efforts to evacuate more than 80,000 people of 42 different nationalities. On December 4 of this year, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced that Pakistan would host a session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad on December 19. OIC to commit to providing economic assistance to avoid humanitarian crisis and eventual collapse of the Afghan economy. The humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan has the potential to disrupt the already precarious security situation in the country and lead to regional instability.
On the occasion of this conference, in order to build an international consensus, special representatives of the P5 countries are invited as well as representatives of the EU. The need of the hour is a special waiver within the UNSC allowing aid to be channeled to Afghanistan without violating the already existing sanctions against the Taliban regime.
The OIC session will aim to look at the bigger picture and strive to find solutions to the problems facing Afghanistan. The purpose of the meeting is not only to pledge aid, but to find ways to ensure that aid reaches the Afghan people. It aims to ensure that the OIC takes the lead in this humanitarian effort.
The OIC is made up of 57 Member States spread over four continents. It is the second largest organization in the world and should ideally act as the voice of the Muslim Ummah. Its main objectives are to promote international peace and harmony among peoples, regardless of their religious affiliations.
FM Qureshi, while announcing the meeting, said, “Considering the gravity of the situation, Pakistan has made an effort and moved forward to host the international event, realizing that if not addressed in due course, the situation will have disastrous consequences for Afghanistan and its neighbors as well as the entire region. Afghanistan may face an economic collapse if its frozen assets are not released to meet growing needs ”. He stressed that the world must learn from its mistakes and that a worsening crisis in Afghanistan could destabilize the region.
The OIC session is an important step to also listen to other stakeholders, such as Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc. The expected result may not be recognition of the Taliban, but at least it will be a step in the right direction to avoid humanitarian catastrophe.
There are major obstacles in the way of humanitarian assistance, and it is essential that the OIC strives to find a way around them. One of the biggest challenges is to distinguish between the unrecognized Taliban government and the Afghan people. One way around this problem is the way the ICRC injected funds directly into the health, education and municipal sectors by paying salaries and running costs for hospitals and schools. This is a model that can be beneficial for the OIC to shape its assistance if it is to avoid violating the UNSC sanctions.
What is clear is that there is an urgent need for the international community to come together and provide aid and assistance to Afghanistan. Ignoring this impending disaster will have dramatic consequences for the region and the world. There is also a need to offer a waiver to Afghanistan within the United Nations Security Council to allow aid to flow without violating existing sanctions. OIC countries, acting by consensus and unity, wield immense influence and this session can be a watershed event for Afghanistan if members are able to find concrete measures and solutions on how to deal with the issue. Afghan riddle.
The author is a research fellow at the Institute for Regional Studies.