I met Wahid Rahimdil working for Teahouse Consulting, a media company in Kabul with deep roots throughout Afghanistan.
Wahid is a thoughtful, urbane intellectual with a great sense of humour and bags of style. He is getting a name for exploring issues of philosophy and religion in the modern Afghanistan. Then this happened.
So here are two posts from Wahid. I felt that they work together, so I am posting as one. Firstly how to respond to the immediate threats facing Afghanistan. Then how the international community need to welcome Afghan refugees. He likes lists.
Imminent threats to Afghanistan — and what to do about them
While the political chaos has already started as a result of ill-thought-through Western intervention and the equally poor attitudes of Afghan stakeholders, millions of ordinary Afghans are at the brink of social and security chaos.
The key factors as I see them:
1. Military action by any party involved, particularly NATO, will not work. Afghanistan has repeatedly proven itself to be an untameable beast when it comes to using force. So any measure that uses force can only worsen and further complicate the situation. Let’s not forget, there are 21 organisations, listed as terrorist groups, active in Afghanistan and are on standby for the next opportunity to strike.
2. Emergency and humanitarian aid is desperately needed. There are tens of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) which came about as a result of the government and Taliban conflict. Irrespective of what is happening in the realm of political settlement, those people still need to be fed and taken care of. There are many more such aid examples that need immediate attention and action by the international community.
3. World powers must organise meaningful intervention. The international community has a test of credibility ahead. World powers must intervene (non-militarily) to lay down their conditions to all parties involved in negotiations in a firm yet pragmatic manner, so the Afghan people don’t suffer the fate of Iraq and other similar cases. The deployment of peace-keeping forces in an absolutely unbiased manner with only one job at hand: prevent military conflicts, will do the trick. Preferably from a Muslim-majority country such as Turkey.
4. A legitimate Afghan leadership needs to develop. Currently there are three negotiations happening in parallel to fill the leadership vacuum: the Taliban leadership and Afghan government delegation (Doha negotiations); Jihadi leaders and the Taliban (Kabul negotiations); and the Taliban leadership and the resistance in Panjshir. Whether the ongoing negotiations reach an agreement to restore Ghani as the president or announce a transitional structure, it must happen within the next few days. The fragile economy and security situation of Afghanistan is already stretched beyond its means, it cannot hold for much longer.
5. Governance and security need to be maintained. The Afghan National Army (ANA), Afghan National Police and civil service and civil society need to work to full capacity so people can be assured that governance and security are sustained, despite the fact that the top leadership has fled the country. The salaries of government employees as well as government contractors must be paid so life can be sustained, which will prevent daily lives of ordinary Afghans from suffering in the inevitable subsequent looting and absolute lawlessness. Furthermore, if an orderly and acceptable administration is not formed in the next few days, the resistance forming in Panjshir will lose patience and may enter a military face-off with the Taliban. The Taliban’s leadership seems to be suffering from ever-increasing internal disagreements, and such a power vacuum will mean the gaps will widen, which will result in sections of the Taliban breaking off and joining ISIS or Al-Qaeda.
6. Neighbouring countries have to be included. We all know that most actors involved in all of those negotiations have deep and long established ties with neighbouring countries, hence whatever configuration is coming, it must be acceptable to neighbouring countries, particularly to Iran and Pakistan.
7. The banking system needs to be unfrozen, quickly. A large portion of the legal economy has become inaccessible. In such a difficult time, the last thing anyone wants to see is a shortage of cash flow in the market. Banks need to be re-opened quickly. The Hawala system needs to step up. The Afghan diaspora and the concerned INGOs and individuals can try to get money to Afghanistan but currently there is no way to do it.
“Dear International community,
Free advice from a former asylum seeker and an SME on migration — whether you want to hear it or not!
Whatever country you may be, if you are receiving Afghans through the Kabul airport airlift disorganised disaster, you must:
1. Provide them with immediate psychological support as some of them have witnessed hell on earth.
2. Provide practical help to navigate through your settlement schemes. The fact that your scheme has things to offer doesn’t not mean all Afghans are able to access them on their own. Remember, it is all new to most Afghans and they have no idea how to deal with it.
3. Ensure they are re-located in cities and communities where other Afghans reside. It is not easy to come to terms with a completely new reality without proper support.
4. There is a world of expertise coming to your country through them. Ensure it is channelled and sharpened and supported to become active contributors to your workforce. The set of skills they possess may need some sort of defining and refining, but then you have got yourself top notch employees!
5. Most importantly, get this airport airlift thing organised. If you can’t manage a dignified exit for those who unknowingly risked their lives for your agenda, you should really think harder before embarking on your next state building mission!
Note: I’m deliberately not being polite because Afghanistan is in a mess and you caused it. So now get your shit together and for once and do what is right!