By Mansoor Ahmad Faizy *
The fact that some wars attract more attention than others is a fact of modern life. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drew attention of the West due to its political importance.
However, this does not mean that the world’s great powers should forget about other wars in the other countries. By the way, there are other disasters that are more dangerous than a war which flared up because of political disagreements.
The people of Afghanistan are against the war more than any other nation on the planet, since they have been at war for the past 40 years. Despite the decades of war, the imminent violence clouds haven’t been disappeared. The notorious Daesh (Daesh) and ideology-based government can spark nationwide violence at any point. Taking into account these facts, we, Afghans, want to create a centre of attention for our own problems, which are not less significant than the Ukrainian war, since about 23 million Afghans are currently at risk of starvation.
Children, women and the elderly are fighting for survival — because they do not have enough food. Afghans began to sell their organs for food, but even more shocking is that the president of the richest country in the world issued a decree declaring that billions of dollars had been stolen from the poorest one.
Executive order on $7 billion
In a move that can only be described as brazenly immoral and completely unacceptable, US President Biden signed the order which decided to compensate the victims of the 9/11 attacks for $3.5 billion of the US-based assets belonging to Afghanistan’s Central Bank, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) and to transfer the remaining $3.5 billion to be distributed for vulnerable Afghans through foreign organizations.
Before the Taliban took over Afghanistan, the Central Bank of Afghanistan had foreign exchange reserves of about $ 9 billion. About $ 7 billion was invested in the Federal Reserve Bank in New York with a mixture of gold, cash, US Treasury bills and other paper money. DAB also invested about $2 billion in assets in total in UK, Germany, Switzerland, the UAE and other countries due to the fact that it does not have a good reserve system of its own.
Biden abused the savings of Afghan people
Biden took the chance to freeze the $7 billion saving of the ordinary Afghans after Taliban took control of Afghanistan, and the international community cut off all the aid to the country. The high-ranking officials in the Taliban regime and common Afghans have strongly reacted to Biden’s decision, branding it a great atrocity against the Afghans. It was considered Biden’s most selfish calculation, while the plight of Afghans struggling to survive was well known.
Biden completely closed his eyes when it came to the catastrophe of Afghan people while Afghanistan was going through the economic recession, ongoing drought, protracted conflicts, and spreading of COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden also ignores the plight of 23 million people in Afghanistan who don’t have enough food now and also paid no attention to 3.2 million children under five suffering from malnutrition.
These are the Afghan assets not the US
It’s our money; the US President admitted that this money, which he intends to distribute among 9/11 victims, is Afghan asset. The US is a stable country, and its economy is far superior. What makes Biden take such a decision? Biden can reverse this decision and still he has room for it. The Afghan people will never forget that US stole their money and also acted ethnically very unwise and imprudent and that US, which spent billions of dollars in Afghanistan, is now after $7 billion.
Biden has a full understanding that the money legally belongs to the Afghan people and nobody else is entitled to it. It doesn’t belong to government, but to the people of Afghanistan.
What about compensation of Afghans
For the last 20 years, Afghans were the main victims of the US so-called campaign of war on terror. Their homes were bombed. Their villages were hit. They were put behind bars. And at the end, they were left like a stranger. No complaints for that they left. They need to go one day. But who will pay the compensation for the destruction, poverty and murder of countless numbers of civilians? Who will pay compensation to the families of thousands of victims and who will heal their pains in one or other way? And more importantly, which is also a historical note, none of the hijackers that staged the 9/11 attacks were Afghan nationals.
Biden’s decagons drew reactions from other countries as well
Biden’s decision met vehement objection by some regional countries as well. Several countries, surrounding Afghanistan, expressed that, Afghan people have the right to use their assets deposited around the world as needed, and the frozen Afghan assets in the US should be returned to them. Taliban said earlier on that if Washington doesn’t revoke its unjust decision to speculate on Afghan assets, they would reconsider their US policy.
Afghans are starving
The Afghans are dying of starvation, and as per WFP estimation, over 23 million people, which is over half of the population, are facing acute food insecurity. This is a tragedy. Now it’s the right time to see the resolve of the international community and what action they would take to protect these communities.
It remains to be seen how the countries and the international agencies, claiming to be the champions of human rights defenders all the time, will handle the situation. They will surely do something if they really exist. It is a fact that a number of countries who spoke about the poor people of Afghanistan disappeared after the Taliban took power. They don’t even mention Afghans on their social media. Which country is talking or expressing concern more about Afghanis’ today? Afghans are dying and the US has taken the money, citing the Taliban as the reason, as if there is only Taliban living in Afghanistan.
Taking money from one victim for another is injustice
Indeed, 9/11 was a big tragedy, and the US and Afghans both are the victims of terrorism. But taking money from one victim for another is not only unjust and brutal, but also a great betrayal to the nation whose money is taken illegally.
Obviously, the tragedy in Ukraine diverted attention away from Afghanistan, but it should not be the case for much longer. International interest in the Afghan people is waning, and we understand their concern.
We are ourselves a conflict-devastated country, so the Afghans deeply share the grief of the people of Ukraine for the suffering that they are going through. But since we are also a war-devastated country, we also understand Russia’s security concerns. However, it does not justify war as it brings no good to anyone. Both Ukraine and Russia are suffering at the moment.
This was because of the decade long wars that more than half of Afghanistan’s populations are now in humanitarian need and the possibility of further deterioration is very real. The Afghan civilians, who had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, are bearing the brunt of stifling sanctions and assets freezing by the US. And this is a great injustice toward them. In the end, the result will be a severe economic downturn. But there is a little hope if the US releases the $9.4 billion in Afghanistan’s currency reserves; that would definitely contribute to prevent at least some soaring inflation and the shuttering of commercial banks and private businesses.
Any policymakers or officials who think that or claim that US sanctions do not target civilian populations are clearly ignoring and turning a blind eye over the humanitarian crisis. It is time to reverse the decision, Mr. Biden. Show some dignity and respect towards those who supported and hosted Americans for decades.
* Editor-in-Chief of the Afghanistan Times Daily