Sources have reported the reopening of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) office in Afghanistan. According to these sources, Japan and the United States, as key financiers of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), have exerted pressure to have the bank resume its operations in Afghanistan under the administration of the Taliban. It is expected that this bank will recommence its activities in Afghanistan in early next year. The Asian Development Bank (ADB), one of the largest budgetary financiers in Afghanistan, suspended its operations in the country with the Taliban’s takeover and relocated its office to Tajikistan. Meanwhile, the Council of National Resistance for the Salvation of Afghanistan and some female protesters view this move as indirect support for “terrorism.” According to them, the world, especially the United States, should not use international organizations as political tools for normalizing relations with the Taliban. On the other hand, the reopening of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) office contradicts the bank’s 2030 strategy, which includes support for women and gender equality as part of its operational programs.
Following the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, all aid organizations, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and other international banks, suspended their activities in Afghanistan. As a result of their suspended operations, the banking and currency system in Afghanistan came under Taliban administration, leading to an ongoing crisis. In the most recent development, sources have reported the reopening of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), one of the largest financiers of Afghanistan in the past two decades. According to sources, it is expected that this bank will resume its activities in Afghanistan in either January or February of 2024, after a hiatus of at least three years.
Sources indicate that this action follows pressure from Japan and the United States, key financiers of this bank. The bank’s decision to commence its operations in Afghanistan comes at a time when, in its 2030 strategy, it has prioritized the reduction of women’s poverty and the promotion of gender equality.
Furthermore, the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) strategy also emphasizes addressing poverty and reducing inequalities, promoting education, and accelerating progress in gender equality as operational priorities for human development and reducing women’s poverty. This is in contrast to the Taliban’s actions over the past two years, where they have excluded women from all public spheres.
In its 2023 strategy, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has stated that it employs different approaches in dealing with countries. According to this strategy, the bank’s interaction with countries facing fragile and conflict-affected situations focuses on governance reforms, institutional growth, conflict mitigation, and the promotion of reconciliation and reconstruction.
According to this strategy, the Taliban, over the past two years, have not only failed to resolve conflicts, establish reconciliation, promote good governance, and strengthen government institutions but have dismantled all legal frameworks of governance. Under the Taliban regime, there is no specific legal entity for monitoring the performance and development programs, and there is no transparency or accountability. The Taliban regime has relied solely on its spokesperson’s statements while depriving citizens and media of their right to question and access information.
On the other hand, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had committed to continuing its operations in Afghanistan as long as Afghan government institutions and security forces were in place. Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the bank relocated its office to Tajikistan and continued to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan through United Nations channels. Last year, the bank contributed over 400 million USD in humanitarian aid through UN programs. The bank has pledged to provide an additional 400 million USD through UN humanitarian programs in the coming year.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced its assistance to the people of Afghanistan at a time when some political and civil forces opposing the Taliban define any action that leads to the normalization of international relations with the Taliban and aid them as support for “terrorism.” The Council of National Resistance for the Salvation of Afghanistan claims that over the past two years, the Taliban have completely removed women from public life and have no commitment to establishing a legitimate and lawful government.
Khalid Pashtoon, the spokesperson for the Council of National Resistance for the Salvation of Afghanistan, in response to the decision to reopen the Asian Development Bank (ADB), tells the Hasht-e Subh Daily that this move constitutes support for “terrorism.” Mr. Pashtoon emphasizes that without the establishment of a legitimate government with electoral legitimacy, “the arrival of banks and giving money to the Taliban” amounts to indirect support for “international terrorism.”
The spokesperson for the Council of National Resistance for the Salvation of Afghanistan asserts that the Taliban do not adhere to values based on international norms and any assistance to this group is not in the interest of the people of Afghanistan or the world. He points out that the prohibition of girls and women from education, and the establishment of an extremist educational curriculum for boys, is pushing the country towards pure fundamentalism, and the world should not seek to normalize relations with such a group.
Meanwhile, some protesting women, in response to the Asian Development Bank’s action under pressure from the United States, argue that Washington is seeking to normalize its relations with the Taliban. According to them, the United States wants to create a “pain-free” platform for itself through international organizations to avoid public pressure.
The protesting women say that U.S. government officials are trying to loudly legitimize the Taliban from Asia by exerting significant influence over international organizations. According to them, such actions are “dangerous” and a “double game” with the women of Afghanistan and human rights values. These protesting women emphasize that the United States supports human rights on the political stage but obliges economic and financial institutions to strengthen the Taliban.
Protesting women view any form of interaction and normalization of relations between countries and organizations with the Taliban as in contradiction with human rights values, principles, international relations norms, and the interests of the people of Afghanistan. According to them, the Biden administration officials are pursuing a “whitewashing of the catastrophic withdrawal” from Afghanistan to justify their unsuccessful policies regarding terrorism.
Lailima Jamshidi (pseudonym), one of the protesting women under the Taliban’s rule, says that every effort in the world should be aimed at dismantling the regime of “gender apartheid” of the Taliban. According to her, assisting the Taliban amounts to supporting repression, sexual violence, widespread exclusion of women, and systematic violations of human rights in Afghanistan.
It is worth noting that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been one of the largest contributors to the reconstruction and redevelopment of Afghanistan over the past two decades. This bank has provided Afghanistan with loans of 817.3 million USD and grants of 9.3 million USD for more than a decade.