Main takeaway from OIC summit


The single most important takeaway from the OIC summit on Sunday, even more than the Humanitarian Trust Fund and Food Security Program, was the realisation that even the world’s second-largest multilateral forum will only hit a brick wall when it comes to providing financial aid to Afghanistan at least as long as the country’s banking system lies in ruins. Other than the $265 million pledged by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the $30 million committed by Pakistan, no other country has yet talked about money, even though everybody agrees how deep the Afghan crisis is, precisely because there is no real way of translating their concern into tangible, financial help at the moment.
It goes to Islamabad’s credit, then, that it moblised the 57-member bloc in such a way that the international community will now be forced to take note and pressure Washington into loosening its chokehold on Kabul’s finances. Not only should, and most likely will, more voices call for an end to the stiff sanctions, but surely everybody will press for the release of approximately $10 billion of the Afghan central bank’s money frozen in foreign banks.
But all this will have to happen very quickly because, as the UN and practically all other credible aid agencies have warned, more than half the country’s population of about 40 million people is already in the midst of the greatest human catastrophe of this generation; perhaps longer.
Prime Minister Imran Khan was spot on when he called it a man-made disaster because in addition to causing it the world’s richest and most powerful countries are now making it much worse, and that too because they were humiliated by the manner in which they were ejected from Afghanistan.
The Pakistani government has well and truly gone out of its way to stand for Afghanistan in its hour of need. It’s time for the rest of the world to play its part as well.