Funds and mindsets frozen in time

What the Biden administration has been saying about Afghan money is next to ridiculous


Imran Jan August 18, 2022
The writer is a political analyst. Email: [email protected] Twitter @Imran_Jan

The Biden administration has announced that it will not release the frozen assets worth $3.5 billion belonging to Afghanistan. The total assets were worth $7 billion. However, the Biden administration after withdrawing from Afghanistan had decided unanimously that it would use half the money to pay for the 9/11 lawsuits, while the remaining half would be given back to Afghanistan.

Imagine for a moment that Afghanistan gets a loan from the US or the IMF and some years later announces that half the funds would not be returned because of how the Afghan lives and economy were affected by the actions of the western society and therefore, the funds would go toward the lawsuits filed by Afghan citizens in Afghan court against American and British government officials. In that pursuit, the Afghans would have a stronger leg to stand on than the rationale behind the US action.

Fairytales aside, what the Biden administration has been saying about this Afghan money is next to ridiculous. First the Biden administration said we would not return the money to the Taliban because they are not the legitimate government of the country. It was touted that the country should be given funds through private social services groups to help the people of Afghanistan. Fair enough. However, now the administration is saying, well, the Taliban had given shelter to Al Qaeda chief Ayman al Zawahiri, therefore, we would not be returning a penny to Afghanistan. The insinuation here is that giving shelter to foreign terror groups is the breach of the agreement that the US and the Taliban had signed in Doha. Fair enough again.

The US said, well, we made a deal with the Taliban but they are not the legitimate government of Afghanistan. Fair enough one more time. However, if the Taliban’s is not the legitimate government of Afghanistan then why should their actions determine the access to those funds. If the Taliban were never entitled to gain access to those funds as the US kept saying before, then why should their breach of contract decide what happens to those funds. Because their agreement with the US did not determine that they would gain access to the funds. Either they are the legitimate government of Afghanistan or else their actions should have no bearing whatsoever on the fate of the funds. Which is it?

Interestingly, this is the same mindset that was at work at the time of the Bush administration when 9/11 had just happened. The Bush administration in the wake of 9/11 had demanded of the Taliban to hand over Bin Laden to them. The Taliban at the time had asked for evidence that it was indeed Bin Laden who had orchestrated 9/11. The Bush administration replied with an invasion of the country. And a fact that went down the Orwellian home is that the Bush administration basically said to the Afghan people that we, the United States, will continue to bomb you until the people in charge of your country, that you did not elect by the way, hand over the man that we accuse of attacking us on our soil. President Biden is basically telling the Afghan people that we will continue to starve you because the people that are in charge of your country, which you did not elect and which we made a deal with, are giving shelter to terrorists. Furthermore, the good behaviour of the people in charge of your country did not entitle them or your country to gain access to the funds needed to feed you Afghan people but their bad behaviour has resulted in your country losing that money for good. Moreover, while we do not acknowledge them as representing you Afghan people, we will treat their actions as representing your actions wholesale. Yes, we can.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2022.

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