Pakistan has called for the complete unfreezing of Afghanistan’s assets after the Joe Biden-led administration in the United States decided to keep half of the $7 billion Afghan assets in the country, Pakistan media reported.
Biden on Friday signed an executive order to deal with the threat of an economic collapse in Afghanistan, setting wheels in motion for a complex resolution of competing interests in the country’s assets.
The United States is seeking to free up half of the $7 billion in frozen Afghan central bank assets on US soil to help the Afghan people while holding the rest to possibly satisfy terrorism-related lawsuits against the Taliban, the White House said.
In a statement on Saturday, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said Pakistan had seen the US decision to release $3.5 billion for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and $3.5 billion for compensation to families of 9/11 victims.
“Over the past several months, Pakistan has been consistently emphasizing the need for the international community to quickly act to address the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan and to help revive the Afghan economy, as the two are inextricably linked,” the spokesperson said.
Iftikhar added that finding ways to unfreeze the Afghan foreign reserves urgently would help address the humanitarian and economic needs of the Afghan people.
Meanwhile, Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s designated representative to the UN, called for the entire amount to be unfrozen and kept under the control of the Afghan central bank.
“The reserve is the property of Da Afghanistan Bank and by extension, the property of the people of Afghanistan,” Shaheen told international news agency Reuters.
The spokesman of the Taliban’s Doha office in a tweet said: “Stealing and takeover of frozen money which belongs to the Afghan people by the US shows the lowest level of the human and moral decline of a country.”
Also, Afghanistan’s central bank criticized Washington’s plan to use half the bank’s $7 billion in frozen assets on US soil.
It said the assets had been invested in the United States in line with international practices, and belonged to the people of Afghanistan.