End the Economic Blockade of Afghanistan, project-syndicate.org

Kevin Watkins, former CEO of Save the Children UK

Some of the blame for Afghanistan’s unfolding crisis rests squarely with the new Taliban government. Policymaking is mired in abject confusion, and factional disagreements have stymied the humanitarian response. The decision to prohibit girls from attending secondary school, which the Taliban now denies is official policy, undermines the national self-interest, and mixed messages on women’s employment have compounded poverty.

But government incompetence is only part of the story. When the Taliban took power, the foreign aid that financed three-quarters of all government spending was stopped overnight, leaving millions of teachers, health workers, water and sanitation engineers, and public officials unpaid. The entirely predictable collapse of social infrastructure has fueled the humanitarian catastrophe. […]

Western governments urgently need a plan for supporting recovery that goes beyond humanitarian aid. The US should unfreeze Afghanistan’s foreign-currency reserves. Sanctions regimes should be amended to facilitate non-humanitarian aid, the recovery of the country’s banking system, and the operations of Afghanistan’s central bank.

None of this implies full normalization of diplomatic relations. But it does require recognizing the simple fact that no credible alternative to the Taliban exists. […]

After two decades of war in Afghanistan, the international community must now unite to win a fragile peace. That means ending an economic blockade that is violating vulnerable Afghans’ human rights no less than the edicts of armed religious zealots are. Läs artikel