Government Policy

Taliban-ruled Afghanistan stares at major humanitarian crisis: speakers

The situation in Afghanistan remains fluid and Bangladesh should exercise “extreme caution” especially in regard to countering violent extremism, speakers have said at a discussion

With 100 days of the Taliban in power, Afghanistan seems to be on the brink of yet another major humanitarian crisis having implications on regional countries, they said, adding that the ripple effect of the Taliban takeover will be felt all across the region, including Bangladesh.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in mid-August sparked tensions regarding the possible implications regional nations will face, they observed.

The aforementioned sentiments were echoed by Major General ANM Muniruzzaman, President of Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) and Zafar Sobhan, Editor of Dhaka Tribune in their opening remarks at the BIPS-Dhaka Tribune Roundtable titled, ‘Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan: Regional and International Implications.’

The discussion, held in a city hotel on Tuesday, was attended by ambassadors, scholars, security experts, and youth representatives from various disciplines.

Muniruzzaman emphasized the dire situation in Kabul with the ongoing economic meltdown.

He said, “The coming winter months are going to be the toughest with a high chance of mass starvation, among other complications.”

Zafar Sohban said it had been 100 days since the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, and it was important to take a deeper look at the impact of this situation, including how it may affect Bangladesh.

Muniruzzaman discussed how a failed Afghanistan state will bear consequences not just for the region but international security as well.

“Therefore, an economically stable Kabul is in the best interest of the region,” he added.

When discussing the effect of the takeover for Bangladesh, Muniruzzaman discussed how the Afghan Taliban’s influence is very prominent in the violent extremism in Bangladesh and that the new takeover has inspired a new wave of people in the country, especially the youth.

The first keynote speaker, Major General Muhammed Firdaus Mian (retd), former chairman of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), laid emphasis on impact on violent extremism and its possible spillovers for the region.

He highlighted whether Afghanistan will now once again become a sanctuary for regional terrorism.

“All major financial assistance has been stopped and the people are suffering. This is exactly the landscape where extremism and terrorism thrives.”

Highlighting the role of regional powers, second keynote speaker Dr. Lailufur Yasmin, Professor of the Department of International Relations at the University of Dhaka, narrated how historically no one has been able to centrally control Afghanistan and whether this was possible right now.

“Will the new government be on the basis of democratic ideals or something else? she posed a question.

Dr Yasmin talked about the role of regional powers like India, Pakistan, Iran and China.

She mentioned the importance of Kabul to India and concluded her remarks by emphasizing China’s interest in Afghanistan.

The third and final keynote speaker, Parvez Karim Abbasi, Assistant Professor of the Department of Economics at East-West University explained the geo-economic implications of the Taliban Takeover in his speech.

He said the poverty in Afghanistan is astounding and before the pandemic, poverty rates were at around 70 per cent while it is projected to be 97 per cent around next year.

He also noted that even though Afghanistan had large reserves of strategic minerals, these have not translated to economic growth.

When talking about implications on Bangladesh he highlighted the case of narcotics and its associated terrorism.

Summarizing the discussion, BIPSS President Munirzzaman opined that although there will be major implications for the region, they cannot forget the good that the Afghan people have achieved over the past 20 years.

“There has been development of women’s rights, education and a free press. We cannot let these go to waste,” he added.

Zafar Sohban ended on a pragmatic note, saying that whether the Taliban takeover was good or bad, there was an obvious consensus around the table that the Afghan people cannot be abandoned.

It must be kept in mind, he said, that this was an impending humanitarian crisis and potential instability that could extend further with Afghanistan as the epicentre.

Source: United News of Bangladesh