Published: 15:51, December 24, 2021 | Updated: 15:51, December 24, 2021
Getting Afghanistan back on its feet
By Shakeel Ahmad Ramay

Millions of Afghan people are going through terrible shortages of food, jobs and health facilities, and looking to the world community for urgent help. Judging from recent personal interactions with locals, it is obvious that young Afghans whose dreams for a decent livelihood are in shambles are pinning their hopes on a new government as well as global contributors.

The 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Dec 19 deliberated on the current humanitarian crises and needs of the Afghan people and the new administration.

Though the leverage of the OIC on the United States and its allies remains doubtful, the OIC has moved in the right direction in urging their assistance to Afghanistan. In addition, OIC members, especially the rich Gulf countries, can extend the hand of cooperation along with Pakistan’s generous support. 

By looking at the current situation, it can be assumed that Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, will be looking for a role and stake in the new government of the Taliban.

Apart from humanitarian aid, Afghanistan also needs long-term investment in roads, energy, connectivity and economic infrastructure. After decades of war, the country’s poor indexes in infrastructure and business sectors have given birth to multifaceted problems. 

Recent data show that the nation suffers from food insecurity, with 12.5 million people lacking proper food supplies as of 2019, poverty estimated at above 80 percent and job insecurity at about 85 percent, as well as low human development indicators.

Afghanistan certainly needs help to climb the ladder of economic growth and development, and the OIC could come out with concrete programs and give a framework for the country’s economic development. 

Apart from the OIC’s establishment of a humanitarian trust fund for Afghanistan, the Afghanistan Rehabilitation and Economic Integration Fund can be established at the OIC platform. And the OIC can invite other partners like China, the US and the European Union. Furthermore, a window for the business community can be created.

Much in line with international practices, the economic integration fund should be run by professionals and prioritize three major tasks: improving the business environment, building human capital, and building efficient government machinery.

As Afghanistan does not have any financial resources, there is a need to avoid policies of debt. The economic integration fund must adopt the policy of “build, operate and transfer” and refrain from interfering in the domestic politics of Afghanistan. In the future, the fund can build linkages with other initiatives like the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

It is encouraging to note that at the Islamabad meeting there was much interaction between OIC members and representatives of the Taliban government. It is suggested that the Taliban must try to read the minds of the global community and address their concerns, as in this globalized world there is no such thing as a free lunch.

While Taliban authorities move for global linkages and integration in the global system according to ground realities, the rest of the world community should reach out to the people of Afghanistan and help the country not only to avert further humanitarian crises, but also to build a prosperous and peaceful homeland from the ruins of war.

The author is CEO of the Asian Institute of Eco-civilization Research and Development in Pakistan. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.