India pitches for UN role, wary of direct aid to Kabul to avert food crises

India pitches for UN role, wary of direct aid to Kabul to avert food crises

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 13

The global community has promised to be generous to the needs of the Afghan people but had reservations about providing aid directly to the Taliban even as there were rumours in Kabul over the death of a senior Taliban leader.

Speaking at a UN conference called by its Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday to address the critical humanitarian needs of Afghans, many participants including External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar pointed out the need to ensure that humanitarian assistance providers are accorded direct access to Afghanistan. The situation in the country, dire because of an ongoing drought, has worsened after the Taliban takeover.

“Once relief materials reach that country, the world will naturally expect a non-discriminatory distribution of humanitarian assistance across all sections of the Afghan society. Only the UN has the capacity to monitor such endeavours and reassure donors,” underlined Jaishankar while refraining from announcing an immediate grant. Jaishankar wanted the immediate normalisation of regular commercial operations at Kabul airport so that it becomes the basis for regular flow of relief material.

Gutteres also said that “international and Afghan humanitarian organisations are on the ground and can deliver. They need sustained access into and around Afghanistan”.

Meanwhile, the Taliban dismissed rumours about a clash between Taliban’s Deputy PM Mullah Baradar and Anas Haqqani that reportedly left the former seriously injured or dead.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted an audio message, purportedly from Baradar, dismissing reports about his death. However, despite being Deputy PM, Baradar was not photographed during the visit of Qatar Foreign Minister Mohd bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani on Saturday.

Social media handles from Pakistan began a counter campaign alleging that millions of dollars and gold was recovered from the home of resistance leader Amrullah Saleh. But they were countered by pro-Panjshir Valley accounts who reminded them of earlier claims that a Saleh entourage had fled in three helicopters. “Why did he then leave so much money behind for the Taliban?” one asked sarcastically.

While several speakers at the UN announced donations in response to a UN Flash Appeal seeking $606 million for the rest of the year to bring relief to 1.1 crore Afghans, it was not clear whether this aid will be disbursed immediately or subject to conditions of fair distribution to all parts of the country.

India and other countries fear that if given directly to the Taliban, most of the aid may go to the Taliban power base of eastern, south-eastern and southern Afghanistan to the detriment of mostly non-Pashtuns in west, central and north Afghanistan.