By Tirthankar Mitra
Since 2021 after Taliban regime took over Kabul and rest of Afghanistan, links of this beautiful mountainous country with the rest of the world have almost been severed. If the powers that be in it chose isolation for itself, a chain of natural disasters striking it in succession are a pointer that it would invite further misery for its populace if it continues its solitary existence..
A devastating earthquake has left hundreds dead and thousands injured. It marks another grim chapter after being plagued by conflict, political turmoil and economic hardship. The earthquake struck western Afghanistan near the city of Herat. Buildings crumbled and survivors watched their world crumble around them.
The tolls remain staggering with 2000 dead and the numbers continue to rise. Enormous challenge is faced by the rescue teams working tirelessly to bring out survivors under the rubble. Their trouble is compounded by Afghanistan’s inadequate medical facilities. Hospitals are overcrowded.
There is an overwhelming demand for emergency care. The situation has exposed the vulnerability of Afghanistan’s healthcare system. It was heavily reliant on foreign aid. On its own, it is all at sea. International aid has dwindled after the Taliban takeover. It has led to a drastic cut to essential services.
The fallouts of imposing an unofficial solitary confinement on its populace is looking the ruling dispensation of the country in its face. In sum, Afghanistan is ill-prepared to effectively combat disasters like the recent earthquake. A similar situation visited the country in March when another earthquake rocked north-east Afghanistan. It triggered landslides and people fleeing their homes were a common sight.
Afghanistan’s capability to deal with and recover from natural disasters is adversely affected by ongoing crises, internal and external. The Afghan people are on the lookout for a non-existent shelter in the storm of suffering resulting from cumulative effect of conflict, political instability and economic crisis. International aid has dwindled since Taliban takeover. It had already been an aid-dependent economy.
It has now been crippled following freezing of foreign reserves and reduced fundings. Two-thirds of Afghan families are struggling to maintain their livelihood is only part of a dark picture as reported by World Bank.
The urgency of international aid cannot be overstated at this juncture. The last earthquake is pointer that Afghanistan is a country direly in need of aid. It is needed to strengthen immediate relief efforts. The significance of such aid is immense in terms in shoring up long-term infrastructure and healthcare system.
The days are gone when armed horsemen galloped down the passes which connect Afghanistan to more prosperous countries and returned with mounts overladen with plunder to enrich their country. Time the existing dispensation of Afghanistan realised this home truth.
Taliban regime has put Afghanistan in a time capsule. Unless it removes the barriers which seek to keep the Afghans in a state of permanent isolation the residents of the villages and towns nestled in the lap of craggy mountains and snowy valleys will be lashed by storms of suffering. Afghanistan continues to be plagued by permanent isolation. Let not its present dispensation prolong it. (IPA Service)