Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Crisis – UPSC GS2

Context: World Bank has approved a plan to use USD 1 billion in a frozen Afghanistan trust fund for education, agriculture, health and family programs to ease the country’s worsening humanitarian and economic crises.
Current situation in Afghanistan under Taliban rule:
  • Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan after US forces withdrawal in 2021.
  • Current situation in Afghanistan is similar to the geopolitical scenario in the late 1990s.
  • International aid organisations have left the country.
  • The Taliban are unable to pay the wages to government employees.
  • The public health care sector is in a disarray.
  • The war-ravaged country is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, which could turn into another violent conflict.
  • Apart from the suffering of the rural population, even Afghans based in cities are finding it impossible to make ends meet.
Impacts of the Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan:
  • It is easier for terrorist groups to operate in a country that is facing economic turmoil.
  • Currently Taliban is using diplomatic approach to find aid and recognition.
  • If the humanitarian crisis aggravates in Afghanistan, Taliban won’t be able to manage the situation, as evidenced by violent “Islamic State” (IS) attacks.
  • A possible violent conflict in Afghanistan could spill over to other countries in the region.
  • If that happens, regional powers will start supporting proxies to keep the violence within Afghanistan’s boundaries.
  • The more the Taliban stay in power, the more difficult it will get to maintain stability in the region.
  • The Taliban have ties with international terrorists. Their return to power has emboldened jihadi organizations in the region.
  • As they consolidate themselves, their tactical and strategic ties with terrorism financiers and sponsors will grow and will eventually jeopardize peace and security in the region and beyond.
What should the World do for Afghanistan?
  • Humanitarian aid should be given immediately.
  • Afghanistan’s economy needs to be improved so that Afghans can be brought out of poverty.
  • To lift Afghanistan’s economy, the international community needs to engage with the Taliban.
What will be the Implications for India?
  • Strategic Concern: The Taliban’s control will mean a bigger hand for the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies to influence outcomes for the country, which will mandate a much smaller role for Indian development and infrastructure work that has won it goodwill over the past 20 years.
  • Threat of radicalisation: There is the threat of growing radicalisation and space for pan-Islamic terror groups in India’s neighbourhood.
Way Forward:
  • Inclusive Government: Formation of an inclusive government with the participation of all ethnic groups.
  • Russian support: Russia has cultivated links with the Taliban in recent years. India would need Russia’s support in any form of direct engagement with the Taliban.
  • Bonhomie with China: India should talk with China, with the objective of finding a political settlement and lasting stability in Afghanistan.
  • Engaging with Taliban: Talking to the Taliban would allow India to seek security guarantees from the insurgents in return for continued development assistance or other pledges as well as explore the possibility of the Taliban’s autonomy from Pakistan.
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