Patients and Scholarship Holders Must Be Able to Leave Afghanistan
The sudden fall of Ashraf Ghani’s government had fatal consequences for the civilians. After the August 15 turmoil, the people have not been able to overcome some of the core challenges. Currently, one of the main problems is the restriction on international flights The Taliban prevented people from entering Kabul airport when people flocked. The international forces then left Afghanistan. Kabul Airport suffered technical damage during the US evacuation and has since been closed to international flights. Although Turkey had negotiated with the United States to control Kabul airport before the fall of Kabul to keep it active, the Taliban opposed it.
Now that the final withdrawal of US troops has been completed, the Taliban government has failed to prepare Kabul Airport for the resumption of international flights. Currently, only Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Qatar Airways fly to Afghanistan. These flights also have many restrictions in which only foreign nationals and a limited number of Afghan nationals can be transported abroad. Afghanistan’s international airports have now no use other than domestic flights. Land borders are also closed to the people of Afghanistan. As a pro-Taliban state, Pakistan has not yet opened its borders to Afghan citizens, despite its claims.
Although various groups, including industrialists, face challenges, patients who are not treated domestically and scholarship holders are in a state of emergency. It is not possible to treat some advanced diseases in the country. Therefore, patients are forced to travel abroad for treatment at great expense. Some of these patients have already started their treatment process and now have to continue their treatment to control their diseases. There are also even patients with incurable diseases who have to go abroad from time to time to survive.
Besides, thousands of young people who have received scholarships from prestigious foreign universities are in a dilemma. These students face two main challenges. First, most of them do not have IDs or passports and have to wait for days behind the gates of the Passport Office and the Statistics Office so that they may be able to get IDs or passports. Second, there are no guidelines for their departure from Afghanistan.
Over the past few days, a large number of Pakistani scholarship holders went to the Torkham and Spinboldak-Chaman crossings to begin or continue their studies in that country but were not allowed to enter by the Pakistani military.
Such encounters clearly indicate that there are no plans for scholarship holders. Although the Taliban government has begun the process of issuing citizenship cards and passports, it has not labeled the scholarship holders as a group eligible for passports. There is no order on how scholarship holders should be treated when distributing IDs and passports. The Taliban even have not yet talked to other countries about the future of scholarship holders.
For these reasons, scholarship holders have a right to worry about losing their education opportunities, which is in fact the result of the negligence of the Taliban-led government. So far, no commitment has been made to them by the Taliban or the grant-giving countries. The opportunity to study at prestigious foreign universities is crucial for these students. Most scholarship holders were unable to start their studies last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Now that the restrictions have been lifted in most countries, these students have not been left with a chance to leave Afghanistan.
To solve these problems, the Taliban must first open the land borders to the people. If there is a challenge, it must be addressed. The Taliban must also pave the way for the resumption of international flights to Afghanistan. Travel is the right of every citizen. Article 30 of the current constitution and Article 26 of the constitution of the Zahir Shah reign make it clear that every Afghan has the right to travel abroad or to return to the country. If the Taliban do not abide by the constitution of the Republic, they should at least respect the Zahir Shah constitution that is currently in force.
On the other hand, such trips are also profitable for Afghanistan. While Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Khost airports should be open to international flights, there are no international flights to Afghanistan. If the Taliban themselves are not able to use these airports, allow other countries to do so. Turkey and Qatar are ready to jointly activate Kabul Airport for international flights. The Taliban also need to enter into dialogue with neighboring countries so that people can have the opportunity to travel by land. To be honest, civilians cannot wait for opportunities to be lost due to the incompetency of the Taliban.