Taliban isolation disrupts Afghan earthquake response

GAYAN (Paktika Province): A helicopter from the Taliban-led Islamic Emirate took off on Thursday after dropping relief materials in an earthquake-hit district of Afghanistan.—Reuters

Kabul: A devastating earthquake in eastern Afghanistan, which killed at least 1,000 people and leveled homes in remote villages close to the Pakistani border, is the biggest challenge the Taliban have faced since they took power nearly a year ago. was captured.

The radical group is ruling a poor country beset by severe drought, widespread hunger and economic crisis and where the effects of decades of conflict are still deeply felt.

Now the earthquake risks exposing the limitations of the administration, isolated from the outside world and desperately short of cash and resources.

While humanitarian aid continues, aid needed for long-term development in Afghanistan was withheld when the Taliban attacked Kabul last August. Further angering the Taliban, billions of dollars in Afghan reserves are also frozen abroad as the West pushes for concessions on human rights, especially for girls and women.

Shahbaz expressed solidarity with Akhundi

Ashley Jackson, co-director of the Center on Armed Groups and an expert on relations between the Taliban and civilians.

So far, a handful of old helicopters are flying to some of the worst-affected areas, carrying the injured out and supplying food and medicine.

“The question is, will this disaster call into question the harmful cost to the international community that its policies are inflicting on ordinary Afghans?” Jackson said.

Adnan Junaid, vice-chairman of the International Rescue Committee for Asia, said: “The international community should … establish a roadmap that will enable the resumption of development aid, technical assistance to the central bank, and ultimately the release of Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves.” Develop a strategy to do so.”

The Taliban have appealed to the international community and several countries have promised humanitarian aid, some of which is already coming. International aid agencies are also providing help at the grassroots level.

However, technical support, including specialist search and rescue teams that can quickly fly in from overseas, had to be deployed by Thursday.

Turkey and Pakistan teams were on standby, according to two UN officials and a Pakistani source who spoke on Wednesday.

Syed Irfan Raza from Islamabad says: Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday called on Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund, the acting Prime Minister of Afghanistan’s interim government, and conveyed Pakistan’s solidarity with the Afghan people in the wake of the devastating earthquake.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Sharif prayed for the departed souls and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

He also shared with Mullah Akhund the details of relief efforts undertaken by Pakistan to provide emergency aid to Afghanistan, including sending emergency medicine, tents, tarpaulins and blankets.

He said that the border crossing points of Ghulam Khan and Angoor Adda have been opened to take seriously injured Afghans to Pakistani hospitals for treatment.

The Prime Minister also highlighted the measures taken by Pakistan to facilitate trade and movement of people through effective border management. He said that Pakistan is committed to strengthen bilateral ties to promote peace, progress and prosperity.

Published in Dawn, June 24, 2022