Afghan activist tells Munich Security Conference the nation is 'lost' and 'out of plans'

Foreign ministers say action needs to be taken to tackle terrorist groups within Afghanistan

World leaders urged efforts to tackle terrorists and poverty in Afghanistan. EPA
Powered by automated translation

A female activist in Afghanistan made a heartfelt plea to the Munich Security Conference for the international community to help to tackle the nation's problems.

Panelist Mahbouba Seraj, executive director of the Afghan Women Skills Development Centre, addressed the conference from Kabul in a session titled Talibanned: Prospects for Afghanistan and said that the nation is now “lost”.

“We are dying here. I do not care what this world is saying. How you are coming about it, any kind of a thing for Afghanistan you have, use it right now and make it possible for us to get out of this situation,” she said.

“Right there is not just the fact that the Taliban do not let us study — because even if they let us study how are we going to do it? There are no proper schools, no teachers, no money. You are sitting in a country that is falling apart.

“What are your plans as the world? Because we are out of plans. Can you please sit down and make a solid plan because we are lost. The poverty is holding us by the neck and is taking us down.

“The lack of education and literacy — the same. No money — the same. Where are you?” she said.

“You were part of our lives for so long, you did so much for us, and we counted so much on you. Is there a voice, is there a plan or are you just going to sit down and have meeting after meeting?”

Her calls came as panelists from around the world discussed the problems faced by Afghanistan.

Moderator Michael Keating said that ignoring Afghanistan would be at the world's “peril”.

“Right now, the danger in Afghanistan is being deprioritised due to everything else going on. Ignoring the situation is not a good policy, not only for the people but for the region and for the rest of the world,” he said.

“You ignore Afghanistan at your peril.

“The issue is how to engage with Afghanistan, engagement is very upsetting for a lot of actors, but failure to engage could be even worse.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul said his priority was to see more women being employed in non-government organisations (NGOs).

“It’s very challenging and it’s a very dire situation,” he said.

“We left American citizens behind and 100,000 partners behind who we promised we would protect. The saddest thing to me is the women left behind and what is happening to them in Afghanistan.

“Right now we are looking at humanitarian assistance we ave NGOs on the ground and we want to make sure aid is getting to the victims and not war fighters, there is lots of commitment,” said Mr McCaul, a Republican Congressman from Texas.

“The biggest change for NGOs is that they do not want to hire women. Just hiring all male Taliban is not good behaviour. The women are being persecuted. We need to get more women involved in the NGO process.”

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan's Minister of Foreign Affairs, said tackling terrorist groups within Afghanistan is a major matter.

“The most important issue is, and should be, the potential security and terrorism threat emanating from Afghanistan,” he said.

“There is a whole alphabet soup of terror organisations basing themselves in Afghanistan.

“The key is to convince the interim government to take on terrorists within their borders and demonstrate their ability to do so.”

Belgium's Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib said the situation could give rise to more terrorist incidents.

“It is creating a generation without hope or future. It is creating all the conditions that led to 9/11,” she said.

Updated: February 18, 2023, 3:03 PM