The president of the Open Society Foundation and a senior former UN official, Mark Malloch-Brown, in a piece in the UK's Financial Times, said that the international community’s current policy is harming the prospects of those who need "our help most," particularly women and girls.
Citing the deteriorated situation in Afghanistan, Malloch-Brown in an article titled “The West must stop playing the ‘Great Game’ in Afghanistan once and for all” said that once more Afghanistan is isolated: denied diplomatic recognition, aid drying up, sanctioned and its assets frozen
“In the US and Britain, many are all too keen to brush the policy failures the country represents under the proverbial carpet; best forgotten before the next elections,” he wrote.
“But this is also part of a longer cycle, of geopolitical and regional competition that has consistently failed to put the Afghan people first.”
He also pointed out to the severe humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, saying that as the world is approaching the second anniversary of the “Taliban’s declaration of victory on August 31 2021," some 28.8 million Afghans require immediate assistance, up from 18.4 million then; 6 million are one step from famine.
“Women and girls have been doubly hit by both the Taliban’s rollback of their rights — including to work and learn — and wider crises of poverty and hunger that harm them the most,” he said.
An Afghan economist, Seyar Qureshi, said that the reduction of international assistance affects the common people of Afghanistan.
“When the international assistance drops in Afghanistan, it mainly affects the people who are faced with a humanitarian crisis amid a high poverty rate and severe economy,” he said.
Abdul Naseer Rishtia, an economist, said that the international community needs to continue assistance to Afghanistan as the country is facing economic hardship.
“I think as Afghanistan is facing economic restrictions and the income of the people is very low, there is a need for the humanitarian assistance to reach to the people of Afghanistan.
Malloch-Brown said that "promoting ordinary Afghans ... involves dealing with" with the ruling regime in Afghanistan, even if that means making nominal concessions to it.”
He suggested that a contact group of western powers, Afghanistan’s neighbors, the Taliban and ideally Afghan civil society might thus pursue goals including a more humane counter-narcotics strategy, improved flows of aid, especially to women and girls, and much greater clarity on sanctions to encourage foreign investment in areas such as irrigation.
“It might engage with Afghan actors beyond the Taliban, sowing the seeds of a more inclusive polity” he said.
Malloch-Brown said that the isolation of Afghanistan may “seem justified in light of the Taliban’s brutality, human rights abuses and sheer misgovernment” but this has the perverse effect of harming the regime’s victims most.
“All parties have a vital interest in preventing the country plunging over the edge. Famine, state failure and even new conflict in Afghanistan would further destabilise Pakistan and the wider region, and make further refugees flee the country. Afghans now make up the largest cohort attempting to cross the English Channel.
“This presents western and other leaders with a simple choice: keep pursuing ‘Great Game’ politics or for once put the people of Afghanistan first. More than 30 years of the former have got us where we are. A new approach is long overdue.”