[Editorial Notes] Fighting on two fronts

Afghanistan is fighting both terrorists and coronavirus at this moment. With internal unity and support from allies, it can prevail over both.
April 17, 2020

Content

  • Introduction
  • Current Situation in Afghanistan
  • Afghanistan’s efforts in fighting COVID-19
  • Vulnerabilities in Afghanistan
  • Way Forward
  • Conclusion

Fighting on two fronts

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Current Situation in Afghanistan

  • With the support of international partners, especially NATO and the Resolute Support Mission (RS) in Afghanistan, the ANDSF has had a few notable achievements of late.
  • The recent arrest of ISIS-K (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province) leader, Abdullah Orakzai, a Pakistan national also known as Aslam Farooqi, is a huge victory for Afghan security forces.
  • The Taliban and ISIS-K are behind many senseless attacks in Kabul and other provinces. A recent example is the massacre of the members of Sikh and Hindu communities in Kabul at their place of worship.
  • Afghan security forces have eliminated the ISIS’s top leadership. In 2019, mid-level commanders surrendered to the Afghan government in eastern Nangarhar and the Afghan President officially announced the outfit’s defeat.
  • However, small terrorist groups, mainly based in Pakistan, are behind some of the attacks in Afghanistan, allowing Daesh to claim the credit.

Afghanistan’s efforts in fighting COVID-19

The government of Afghanistan’s efforts to cope with the spread of COVID-19 are remarkable.

  • President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani allocated national resources and coordinated the effort to fight the virus.
  • It has provided $25 million to the Ministry of Public Health to fight the coronavirus.
  • Earlier, the government approved a contribution of $1 million to the SAARC Emergency Fund to fight COVID-19 in South Asian countries.
  • The government has enforced a series of precautionary measures, including the closure of commercial facilities, in a continuous effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
  • It has ordered the shutdown of commercial complexes, shopping malls and public markets, except for food supply outlets.
  • Islamic scholars have reached a consensus on checking the virus by closing mosques and refraining from conducting any gatherings.
  • The Afghan government has established a technical team that is working with the National Security Council and the Vice President of Afghanistan is leading the Coronavirus Task Force.

Vulnerabilities in Afghanistan

  • Afghan government have many vulnerabilities, from refugees and open borders to the dearth of high-level diagnostic capabilities and shortage of good quality medical amenities. Thousands of refugees are coming to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran. Afghanistan is the gateway to Central Asia.
  • Unfortunately, the WHO, like other UN units, has not contributed as much as they hoped during this time.
  • Their presence and investment in Afghanistan for the past 18 years has been questionable. This is the right time for WHO-Kabul to take proper action based on regional and international experiences.

Way Forward

The Afghanistan’s strategy to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic has five key aspects:

  1. One, acknowledgement.  They have to accept that the pandemic is a threat and requires everyone’s support and contribution.
  2. Two that it can spread everywhere and to everyone.
  3. Three, adversity. They are not at this stage so far, but they have to be ready for such a scenario.
  4. Four, they must support vulnerable people.  
  5. Five, recovery. They need to find the strategy on how can they recover after the pandemic.

Conclusion

Afghanistan need regional and international cooperation. If they don’t control the spread of the virus in Afghanistan, the pathogen could become a great threat to Central Asia.

Compared to Afghanistan’s neighbours and other countries around the world, Afghanistan is in a relatively better position at the moment. But the crisis requires actions not just from the government. Every citizen must also contribute to the effort.

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