Policymakers in Pakistan with a myopic focus were gleeful when the Afghan Taliban entered Kabul. The PTI government now faces a situation it hadn’t visualized. A humanitarian crisis faces the 28-million Afghan population. The Taliban government is required to deal with a serious liquidity crunch. Even if Kabul gets back the $10 billion in reserves currently frozen by the USA, the government will still need much more to continue to import oil, pay monthly dues to civil servants and security personnel, keep hospitals and educational institutions running and maintain civic amenities. With winter about to set in, the government does not know how to feed millions who face hunger. In case of a famine-like situation exacerbated by drought, millions of people are likely to turn into refugees. In Riasate Madina, 1400 years back, the local population shared whatever it had with the Migrants coming from Makkah. The PTI government is however unlikely to follow that example.
NSA Moeed Yusuf has called for holding a donor conference to formulate immediate humanitarian and economic relief plans for averting the risks of instability and threat of terrorism faced by the entire world. This would have been easier had the Afghan Taliban fulfilled the promises made to international community that included formation of an inclusive government, respect for human rights like the right of Afghan girls to seek education and of Afghan women to get jobs. The Afghan government was also expected to abstain from awarding the harsh punishments of the Mullah Omar era. The Afghan Taliban’s failure to fulfill the promises has led the UN Human Rights Council to appoint a special rapporteur for monitoring the rights situation in Afghanistan, setting aside objections from five countries including Pakistan.
The world, particularly the neighbouring countries, would no doubt offer humanitarian assistance. There are in fact suggestions of limited cash airlifts to Kabul planned to directly help Afghans while bypassing the Taliban. There is however little possibility of the country receiving grants that financed 75 percent of public spending under the former government. Thus everything might not be okay when the economic crunch forces people to initiate protests and the government takes recourse to repression.