The world needs to save Afghanistan

NEW DELHI, Aug 14: In a recently held international conference titled ‘Consequences of the impending Taliban takeover of Afghanistan’ in London, prominent human rights activists, security analysts, intellectuals and lawmakers from 12 countries in Europe, the US and South Asia participated.

Some of the leading names included Paulo Casaca, Executive Director of the South Asia Democratic Forum in Brussels and a former member of the European Parliament and Human Rights defender; Fazal-ur-Rehman Afridi, a Pashtun leader and President Instut de Recherche et d’etudes strategiques de Khyber; and Hiranmoy Karleker, advisory editor of the Daily Pioneer.

The Conference President Shahriar Kabir expressed deep concern about the withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan stating that this will endanger the lives and livelihoods of the people of Afghanistan as well as the regional security and peace of the South Asian countries. Jihadists like the Taliban and Al Qaeda do not care about the political or geographical boundaries of any country. If the Western powers allow militants like the Taliban, Al Qaeda to grow like a frog’s umbrella in Afghanistan, Pakistan or in any other country, we may see a lot of catastrophes like 9/11 in the near future. He also called on the enlightened civil society of the world to speak out against the impending Taliban occupation of Afghanistan and to demand the presence of NATO until all militants, including the Taliban, are eliminated and peace is restored in Afghanistan.

Casaca, executive director of the South Asia Democratic Forum in Brussels and former MEP, underlined that the Taliban had transformed Afghanistan into a hub for the development of international militancy which led to the 9/11 attacks. Twenty years later, there is no sign of a change in the Taliban’s intentions. Their views on human rights, especially women’s rights, have not changed. They have always ignored international public opinion. The Taliban regime poses a serious threat to Afghans, to its neighbours and to the international community. It is the duty of all human rights believers to stand by Afghans for their freedom and democracy.

Afridi, a Pashtun leader and representative of the UN Human Rights Council claimed that the situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating. The Taliban have been occupying areas one after another, destroying civilian property, carrying out suicide attacks, car bombings, targeting women and killing prisoners of war. He added that if the Taliban recaptured Kabul, all the progress made over the past 20 years on women’s empowerment, human rights and the protection of religious and ethnic minorities, democracy and state building will be lost.

He further claimed that the Pakistani army was behind the destruction of Afghanistan. To destabilise Afghanistan, Pakistan Army is providing the Taliban direct support against the elected Afghan government by providing them training, money and supplies. Pakistan’s militant groups, the civilian population, even the state-sponsored media, are openly destroying Afghanistan.

Most worryingly, the recapture of Kabul by the Taliban could lead to a civil war in the country and the rise of Islamist militancy and extremism in the region. They will destabilize Indian Kashmir and lead to a resurgence of militant groups in Bangladesh as in the 1990s.

Karleker, a veteran Indian journalist and author of the “End Game in Afghanistan” emphasized that the Taliban have a distorted view of Islam and are a jihadi group. They are utterly fanatics who will not stop until their goals are reached. Afghanistan will once again become a global pasture. In addition, their victory will greatly boost the morale of jihadis around the world. Then they will start attacking individually or in groups. Therefore, there is no alternative to uprooting the Taliban from Afghanistan.

Today, the world is already in the midst of a pandemic that has affected millions, killed thousands, ravaged economies and pushed people into poverty, unemployment and desperation. To add to this, any legitimate acceptance of an organisation like the Taliban which thrives on terror, drug money, human rights violations and a radical interpretation of Islam is bound to impact not only Afghanistan but the world at large, as seen in the past during 9/11 when the Taliban, supported by Pakistan gave Al Qaeda and its leaders a safe haven.

Nothing seems to have changed in the past 20 years for the Taliban except that a whole generation of Afghanis grew up believing in themselves with access to education riding on a principal human value: hope. Hope that they could live with freedom, live as citizens in a democracy, live in peace. In this now or never moment, it is time the international community comes together to help humanity survive with what makes us all human, hope. (IANS)