Afghanistan’s Taliban government urges US to unfreeze its assets

Kabul, Nov 17 (PTI) The Taliban-led Afghanistan government has asked the US to unfreeze the country’s assets worth over USD 9 billion and lift the sanctions on its banks, citing the hardships faced by the people ahead of harsh winter.

The US froze over USD 9 billion of assets of the Afghan Central Bank after the Taliban insurgents seized power in the war-torn country in mid-August.

Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in a letter to the US Congress wrote that freezing of Afghanistan’s assets cannot resolve any problem.

It is quite surprising that with the announcement of the new government, the administration of the United States of America slapped sanctions on the assets of our Central Bank. This goes against our expectations as well as the Doha Agreement, the letter reads.

The Doha Agreement was signed by the US and the Taliban in February last year to bring the Afghanistan War to an end. The Agreement provided for the withdrawal of all NATO forces from Afghanistan in return for a Taliban pledge to prevent al-Qaeda from operating in areas under Taliban control, as well as ongoing talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

Muttaqi said that following the signing of the Doha Agreement, Afghanistan and the US were no longer either in direct conflict or in military opposition, Tolo News reported on Wednesday.

Currently the fundamental challenge of our people is financial security and the roots of this concern lead back to the freezing of assets of our people by the American government, the letter reads.

We are of the belief that freezing Afghan assets cannot resolve the problem at hand, neither is it the demand of the American people, hence your government must unfreeze our capital, it said.

The foreign ministry in the letter said if the assets remain frozen, problems in Afghanistan will increase given that winter is fast approaching, the report said.

It urged the US Congress and the US government to review its decision and release the assets, it said.

We are concerned that if the current situation prevails, the Afghan government and people will face problems and will become a cause for mass migration in the region and the world which will consequently create further humanitarian and economic issues for the world, the letter said.

The freezing of Afghan assets and the United States’ sanctions are damaging Afghanistan’s health, education and other civil services systems, it said.

The letter says that given the droughts, past wars, and COVID-19 impact, the sanctions and freezing of money may escalate the level of financial and economic problems in Afghanistan, the report said.

In conclusion, I request the government of the United States of America take responsible steps towards addressing the humanitarian and economic crisis unfolding in Afghanistan so that doors for future relations are opened, assets of Afghanistan’s Central Bank are unfrozen and sanctions on our banks are lifted, Muttaqi said.

Afghanistan wants good relations with all countries, including the United States, he said.

Afghanistan has been under Taliban rule since August 15 when the Afghan hardline militant group ousted the elected government of President Ashraf Ghani and forced him to flee the country and take refuge in the UAE.