LONDON: A Taliban official has blamed Western sanctions for Afghanistan’s deepening humanitarian crisis.
“It is not the result of our activities. It is the result of the sanctions imposed on Afghanistan,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Sky News.
“During the last six months we have done what we have in our capacity to do for the people of Afghanistan, in order to alleviate the suffering, the problems of the people of Afghanistan.
“But it needs the international community to cooperate with us, not to punish the people of Afghanistan by imposing unjustified sanctions on the country.”
When the Taliban seized Afghanistan from the Western-backed government last year, virtually all international funding was immediately halted.
While some funding was later resumed, billions of dollars in Afghan money held in international banks have been frozen since the Taliban victory.
To have the US-led sanctions regime lifted, Washington and its allies have demanded that the Taliban guarantee women’s rights, open education for all and forms an inclusive government.
Shaheen said the Taliban have already implemented these changes, but many in the West disagree.
“Those things have happened, because it is the demand of the people of Afghanistan. We have no problem with women having access to work and to education,” he added.
Just a few days ago, he said, the Taliban announced that universities would be open to male and female students, and blamed any failings to implement this on funding shortfalls.
“It is the obligation of the international community to provide us financially in order to achieve that goal,” he added.
“We are committed to providing a secure environment for all NGOs and diplomats working in Afghanistan.”
Shaheen said the new government is focused on rebuilding. To that end, he eluded to the exploitation of Afghanistan’s vast untapped mineral wealth, including lithium — a key component in batteries — and uranium, used in nuclear fuel. It is estimated that the country sits on 1.4 million tons of rare earth minerals.
To progress with reconstruction in Afghanistan, “we want to have cooperation with other countries,” Shaheen said.
“We pave the way and facilitate investment of other countries in Afghanistan, in our huge natural resources, because that will be beneficial to all sides, and also will create jobs for the people of Afghanistan and will also help contribute towards security in the country. And security, stability in Afghanistan means security, stability in the region and the world.”