UN in Afghanistan

Only a multilateral effort can make a positive impact

UN in Afghanistan

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar’s call for a central role for the UN in the war-torn country underlines an unclouded policy assertion that the crisis requires united actions that only a global organisation such as the UN can carry out. - File photo

JUST being generous to the needs of the Afghan people won’t be enough, India has prudently reminded the United Nations conference on dealing with the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan, while laying on the table the ‘understandable concerns’ and reservations not only in New Delhi, but also capitals around the world about providing aid directly to the Taliban. External Affairs Minister Jaishankar’s call for a central role for the UN in the war-torn country underlines an unclouded policy assertion that the crisis requires united actions that only a global organisation such as the UN can carry out. The effectiveness of a multilateral platform rather than piecemeal efforts to ensure non-discriminatory distribution of assistance across all sections of Afghan society could not have been more clearly brought out.

New Delhi has expressed its desire to stand by the Afghan people, as in the past, amid the UNDP’s assessment of an imminent threat of poverty levels rising from 72 per cent to 97 per cent. It did not, however, shy away from drawing attention to the changed realities on the ground while reiterating India’s historic ties with the Afghan people, borne out by the fact that it has had development activities running in all the provinces. The international community, hopefully, would pay heed to the message to come together to create the ‘best possible, enabling environment’.

As Prime Minister Modi travels to the US to attend the first in-person Quad leaders’ summit on September 24, followed by an address to the UN General Assembly, ramifications of the Taliban takeover would be high on the agenda. He ought to be ensuring sufficient checks on any misadventure by Pakistan, which has been less than discreet in leaving its footprint in the new Kabul. Secretary of State Blinken’s remark that the US would reassess its relationship with Pakistan to formulate the kind of role it would want Islamabad to play in Afghanistan may sound reasonable, but how much leverage Washington has, and to what extent and under what conditions it is willing to use that remains an imponderable question. 

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