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Countries That Fought Taliban Need to Accept Afghan Refugees: Wajahat Ali

As Afghans look to the world for help, is the international community prioritising refugee rehabilitation?

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Thousands of Afghans have been looking to flee their country ever since the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

Fearing extreme punishments and the erosion of human rights that the previous Taliban regime is infamous for, a sea of people have been gathering outside airports for days, as the US, UK, India, and a few other countries have been carrying out evacuation missions.

But amid this humanitarian crisis, as Afghans look to the world for help, is the international community prioritising refugee rehabilitation adequately?

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"If you are part and parcel of the US’ war on terror and there are other countries and NATO allies who joined in…if you invested on that, then it is, I believe, your responsibility to come up with some strategy to resettle these Afghan refugees," US-based author and columnist Wajahat Ali told The Quint.

For European leaders, the Afghan crisis is a reminder of the 2015 migrant exodus, which was triggered by the Syrian conflict. However, as the US' 20-year-long war on terror ended, much of the Western world including the NATO allies who had joined the US-led offensive against the Taliban, are now reluctant to take in Afghan refugees.

While the international community sympathises with Afghan children and women, who are likely to be the worst casualties under the Taliban regime, the message is that they are not welcome.

Moreover, it has once again stirred up the division over letting in migrants and refugees.

"In the US, Trump-apologists and the right wing media had praised Trump’s early plans on withdrawing US forces as he negotiated with the Taliban. But when Biden went ahead and pulled US troops out of the country, now all of a sudden, they care about the Afghan people," Mr Ali said.

"So, I said on Twitter, if you really care about the Afghan people, why don’t you lobby America to increase its refugee intake and invite more Afghans in? But over the next few days, many people repeated a white supremacist theory that if these refugees come, they’ll weaken America and replace the rest of us. This narrative against refugees and people of colour is an ongoing narrative.”
Wajahat Ali, Columnist and Author

There are no official numbers on exactly how many Afghans have managed to escape the Taliban rule, but according to reports, close to 25,000 people have been evacuated so far, while several thousands are still waiting for their turn.

Initially, the US had said that it was willing to take in over 10,000 Afghan refugees, but close to 20,000 people have been evacuated till now, including a few thousand American citizens.

Other Western countries like UK, Canada, and Germany have also started resettlement plans while some others like Russia and Austria have denied to take any refugees in.

But for those who are left behind, an escape maybe harder to come by in the coming days, as in its last press conference on Tuesday, 24 August, the Taliban requested Afghans to not leave the country, while giving a deadline till 31 August for the US to complete its evacuation.

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After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, in an address on 16 August, standing by his decision to withdraw troops, US President Joe Biden said that America spent over a trillion dollars on its war against terror in the country.

But what left many people surprised was that despite that investment, the Taliban insurgents were able to capture province after province in lightning speed soon after US troops left.

"Who won?" Wajahat Ali asked, "Right now you see Afghans stuck and trying to seek protection from the Taliban who were able to take over Afghanistan in less than two weeks. And, a 20-year-long war and 2 trillion dollar worth investment vanished just like that because the investment was never on the Afghan people. The investment was always on a failed counter-terrorism project called the war on terror."

"You can see the war on terror profited only the architects of the war. Military industrial complex and violent Muslim extremists won. Who else won?"
Wajahat Ali, Columnist and Author

Mr Wajahat Ali also believes that the US' position has weakened internationally given how the war on terror ended with the reinstatement of the Taliban rule.

"United States’ reputation as an indestructible superpower, has weakened in the last 20 years. It has been humbled. It was humbled in Vietnam by ragtag soldiers and it’s been humbled in Afghanistan. We leave without any discernible victories while the Taliban has taken over literally in eleven days” he says.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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