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tv   Natl Security Council Middle East Coordinator on Foreign Policy  CSPAN  January 28, 2022 4:23am-5:56am EST

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includes the treatment of women and girls under the taliban. the atlantic council hosted this 90 minute event. >> hello, everyone, thank you for joining us today. on the half of my colleagues at the south asia center, i i'm happy to discuss this important discussion afghanistan with john sopko. since he was appointed by president obama in 2012, he has carved out a special place for himself in washington as an official truth teller. he brings to this job 30 years of professional experience, working in government, so we are
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going to look to him to give us some ideas for the future unhide -- on how to protect the afghan people. some $36 billion of u.s. money has been spent on the reconstruction act. thousands of lives have been lost, plus countless civilians. several thousand have died in the and cilla terry -- after crafting a departure deal with the taliban. [inaudible] especially for the air force.
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the result was the inevitable and sudden collapse and the unfettered entry of the taliban into kabul. the aftermath has been chaotic, and we lament sadly that the only people who will find peace and afghanistan are the dead. shortages of food, water, and -- led to an epic humanitarian crisis. it is difficult to get to afghanistan for this to be distributed. john sopko is here today to warm us -- warn us of the looming danger, but also offer some guidelines and solutions to the current crisis. joining us in this discussion is a group of leading experts on the region, [inaudible]
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i promised introduce them again during the conversation. the former foreign minister of pakistan, [inaudible] and christina lam. our audience is invited to join the conversation by sending us comments and questions that my colleagues at the atlantic council will capture and share with me. we will attempt to fit as many into the conversation as we can. first, let us hear from inspector general john sopko. over to you, john. >> thank you very much for that kind introduction, and i also want to thank you you and the atlantic council for inviting me to speak this morning. i want to give a belated congratulations to the atlantic council for celebrating your 60th anniversary.
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for over half a century, the council has led critical discussions just as this and done critical research on some of the most important issues facing the united states and the world. one can point to many examples of this leadership, including the great body of work that suja, you conducted for many years as the first director of the south asia center. it is relevant to today's discussion, in your latest book, the battle for pakistan, you highlighted a prophetic report done by one of your colleagues that the then-atlantic council chairman, retired major general james jones, who opened his report and cited as saying "make no mistake, the international community is not winning in afghanistan."
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unless this reality is understood and reaction is taken properly, the future of afghanistan is bleak." now, once again, we all know that afghanistan faces a horrible humanitarian crisis. it is bleak in afghanistan. but just as general jones did in 2008, i am hereto, as you alluded to, to issue a warning. the international community must apply the lessons that we all bitterly learned over the last 20 years, lest this urgent humanitarian aid, which many people are discussing -- the un just announced a large aid program yesterday -- unless that aid is wasted again or is stolen or is diverted to the taliban. as you mentioned, since 2009, my
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agency, the special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction, commonly called sigar, has overseen all u.s. funded reconstruction programs there. we have issued over 700 reports making recommendations to improve reconstruction efforts. all told, sigar's auditors and investigators have saved the u.s. taxpayer over $4 billion. i think i can start by saying that, like others before them, the taliban is learning the bitter lessons, that winning is not the same as governing. since their takeover last august, the afghan economy has cratered, according to the world food program. by the end of november, 90% of all afghans did not have enough
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to eat. this winter alone, over one million children are at risk of starvation and death. access to health care services, minimum health care services, has significantly worsened. by the international community -- but the international community has not ignored afghanistan's dire straits. aid has continued to flow, though significantly reduced. the united states continues to be the single largest donor, providing 780 $2 million in aid for afghanistan refugees in the region. and just yesterday, the u.n. announced what they called a transitional engagement and work -- framework to spend up to $8 billion to support the afghan people. while all this aid flows,
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neither the united states nor any other western donor at this time has a diplomatic or military presence on the ground in afghanistan. this lack of on the ground oversight increases the risk that the foreign assistance will be diverted before it reaches people who need it most. let me be blunt about this -- we have seen this movie before. over this past 20 years, the united states sent over $146 billion for re construction in afghanistan. our conservative estimate at sigar is that 30% of that aid was wasted or stolen. let's be aware, we spent too much money too fast into smaller country with too little oversight. we should keep that in mind as we go forward with humanitarian assistance. the question you may ask, how is
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this possible? how have we wasted so much money? we have highlighted multiple reasons in our work, particularly our 11 lessons learned report has indicated that really insufficient oversight has been the core problem, along with an inability to adapt to changing conditions on the ground. the unvarnished truth is that we could spend all the money in the world in afghanistan, but it will be a tragedy if that money winds up in the hands of the taliban regime or other bad actors other than the afghan people who need it the most. so i offer today both a warning as well as a path forward that includes some common sense best practices that can be taken to reduce the risk or improve the chance of success in afghanistan.
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as the only u.s. government agency legally tasked with whole of government oversight in afghanistan, sigar knows well the risks and challenges the united states and other donors face. let me say here, as an independent inspector general, sigar cannot take a position on whether we should provide more humanitarian aid or not, nor can we design assistance programs. those are matters for the administration and the executive branch. but we are authorizing legislation that allows us to make recommendations to promote economy efficiency and effectiveness in the administration of programs in afghanistan. so what we have done is developed the following 10 best practices based on our extensive oversight experience in that country.
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including the nearly 1200 recommendations we have made overi believe if these suggestis are followed, congress and the administration can effectively respond to the humanitarian crisis while lessening the opportunity for waste and diversion. here are our suggestions. first of all, establish a clear purpose for any of the humanitarian aid. secondly, insist any organization receiving u.s. funding including the u.n., world bank, asian development bank, etc. are fully transparent so we and the other donors know where our money went. 30, set a tolerable level of risk. -- third, set a tolerable level of whisk. we have to be ready to end any
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activity if the risk or wastage becomes too great. fourth, keep track of how the money is used and regularly reassess to see if activities are actually helping people on the ground. fifth, determine clear relevant metrics that measure outcomes. not just how much money was spent or how many people signed up for a program. six, if an activity is going poorly, make course corrections and be prepared to pull the plug. seven, third-party monitors are necessary. the u.s. government and the other donors have to be diligent in evaluating them and their standards. we have to monitor the munchers.
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-- the monitors. eighth, adapt to the evolving situation on the ground. in afghanistan, one size does not fit all situations. ninth, seek smart opportunities for smart conditionality. don't overwhelm those in afghanistan with conditions. 10, look for activities the afghans can eventually sustain without or with limited outside support. let me just reiterate. there is a new reality in afghanistan and it may mean the flow of u.s. and western aid continues for the foreseeable future. if it does, effective oversight will be essential to ensure such funding is not wasted and has a
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chance of a real and a positive impact. sigar remains committed as it has for a decade to protect u.s. taxpayer dollars from misuse and to promote better outcomes. but now more than ever, u.s. and i would caution western allies have the opportunity to put into practice what we should have learned over the last 20 years. by doing so, adopt best practices for this new altered political, social and economic landscape. if there is one lesson we can take away from looking at what happened over the last 20 years and one lesson i hope the audience takes away from today's discussion, it is that we cannot continue to do things like we did in the past.
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if we decide to do that, we will probably risk failure again. let me thank you again for speaking at the council and i look forward to for the and answering any questions. thank you. shuja: as you said, that is the basis for your guidelines. common sense is really not that common. let me ask you this. that the united states and its allies should have known and particularly because of your own organization's efforts at sharing the lessons learned from 20 years of reconstruction efforts in afghanistan.
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you shared hundreds of reports. on both the reconstruction effort and the were fighting. -- and the were fighting. the actions and inactions including about the air force that i report to. -- that i referred to. the question is this. how does washington -- has washed and other western capital learned anything? it seems the overarching would i washington is to punish the taliban for having out last of the coalition. -- outlasted the coalition. and to perhaps blame pakistan as an un-careful ally. how can we change the mindset and focus attention as you say now on the needs of the afghan people? what can be done? john: we are stepping into the
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policy issue that maybe the other colleagues on today's panel can discuss in more detail but i think one thing we should keep in mind is there is enough blame to go around for everybody over the last 20 years. i think focusing on just blaming , saying he did this, she did that whatever. i don't think that accomplishes anything. i think what is productive is finding out what didn't work, what did work and then follow a better approach in the future rather than focusing and blaming everyone. there is almost a a universal outlook. u.n. has restrictions on assisting the taliban or recognizing the entity pick sodas the u.s. and most donor -- the entity. inside is the u.s. and most donors. what we are proposing today and
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we are going to be expanding upon this, not expanding the 10 policies but discussing it more next week when we issue our quarterly report. this is to say here is what we learned. here is what you should apply before you started thinking about shoving $8 billion in humanitarian aid to afghanistan. it will not work unless we learn from the best. before you even start sending the money again, hit the pause button. think and try to design programs that work. i must say i am very encouraged. usaid has approached us. the u.n. has approached us. a number of countries have approached us looking for advice. this is one of the reasons i am speaking today is to tell you here are 10 principles you should follow going forward.
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shuja: you referred to the united nations report we issued yesterday. it is the transitional engagement framework. i remember covering the u.n. as a young news man in the early 1970's. the u.n. has not changed dramatically over the years. it is more aspirational. the $8 million it talks about the needs of the afghan people. it is perhaps too much money going to a country that had too much money, which led to corruption. it is worth looking at the problem they are trying to solve. have a question about that. let me lay out some of those numbers to illustrate the situation on the ground.
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you mentioned some of them yourself. the economy is in freefall in afghanistan. the gdp is contracting by 40%. some 23 million people are facing acute food insecurity. over one million children are facing death from acute malnutrition. 95 and 97% of the entire population of afghanistan is below the poverty line. 4.2 million children are currently out of school. 60% of these -- 8 million children are at risk of dropping out of school. the future as you put it is grim. the u.s. projects it needs to tackle the problems
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[indiscernible] it needs a billion to address these needs. it does not recognize the defect hotel a been regime. -- the defective taliban -- the de facto taliban regime. how realistic is it to expect aid to flow to afghanistan under these conditions and what can be done to change that situation? john: that is a very good point, but i will say that we have faced similar situations in the u.n., world bank, other western countries where we have recognized a humanitarian crisis, but we also had a host government that we don't want to deal with for various reasons. there are a number of countries
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around the world where we are currently doing something like this. it can be done. in our conversations with some officials from the u.n. and world bank and other countries, they have actually told us that. i think we can learn from how to do that. you can operate. it is more difficult but that is why you need people on the ground where you can pick you need people to make sure the money is not diverted and you need somebody in charge. looking at all-around reports, and what really went wrong, one of the problems as we did not have a strategy. we did not really had anybody -- have anybody in charge. we had multiple people in charge. that is what you and officials, former usaid officials have told us you need somebody in charge who can make a decision. you can actually not have to wait six months to go up to
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either new york or washington, d.c. to say we are not going to provide assistance in this district anymore because you, taliban or you whatever the group is are stealing all humanitarian aid and make that decision. they have told us in situations it has worked. i am not saying it is going to be easy but i think we can learn. the united states tends to think it has a monopoly on all things smart and working. i think that is a big mistake. i think we can learn from the experience. you can also learn from entities who have been operating in afghanistan and doing it well for years. i think you and i the last time we met we talked about some of these organizations. a foundation has been operating in afghanistan for years. doctors without borders has been operating in afghanistan for years and able to provide he
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military and assistance without it being diverted. i think we need to talk to them. we are talking to them right now. it is going to be difficult, but it can be done. shuja: where we are dealing with entities that are not recognized as the official government? john: i knew you would ask that. i think the u.n. and other entities are providing humanitarian assistance but they don't want to go through the central government. i apologize. i'm having a mental breakdown right here on that but there are number of countries we have done that with in the past. shuja:shuja: you raise an
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important point, which is the overarching characteristic for the u.s. and allies provocation of the war in afghanistan since the evasion was the lack of -- the invasion with the lack of coordination and the absence of a consistent and clear and cohesive vision. in the book you mentioned, i spoke with leading military and political figures here as well as in europe and the region. the general said when he took over as supreme allied commander for nato, the first thing he discovered was all of these countries that had sent forces into afghanistan were doing their own thing. the transitional head of afghan policy at the white house under the bush administration was asked to step in under president
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obama. he prepared a presentation that he called 10 wars. general mcchrystal used the same term when describing the chaos and confusion in the way we were operating in afghanistan. as you know, even the war effort was marked by this lack of consistency. so how can we expect the united states and its allies to alter this behavior when it comes to mounting a humanitarian effort? how can they take the lead? john: i think the first step is to recognize there was a problem and to in the case of the strategy, that is what you say come up with goals and your strategy. i believe that is the first
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principle we come up with. and then designate somebody or some entity as being in charge. that can be done. particularly when you are dealing with afghanistan now in humanitarian assistance, i don't think many western countries will be operating independently in afghanistan. i cannot make a recommendation but obviously the u.n. has been operating there for a long time to the world bank will be operating there. you're certain international organizations. if you give them the authority to do it. if you do, you can all of a sudden absolving yourself and i don't think congress is going to all of a sudden say we are going to give them money and not pay attention to how it is spent. that was one mistake we learned in ask aniston -- in afghanistan. we issued a number of audits looking at the u.n. that were critical at how they did
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oversight. and actually the u.n., there is correspondence between me and the former head of the undp where she said i have no responsibility to protect the money, which explains why the u.n. was running a trust fund that was paying for soldiers that never existed right up until the end of the afghan government. we have been very critical of how the world bank has operated and run the afghan reconstruction trust fund. we have issued a number of reports and we will be issuing one next month, which covered the world thank operation of the ar tf up to the date until the collapse of the afghan government. it is critical. it basically says we audited you before cared we made a whole bunch of recommendations. although you fixed some of the
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problems, you have not fixed a lot of of them including having effective oversight and including telling the donors how you are spending the money. it can be done to it just test -- it can be done. let's learn what worked and what did not. i think we can succeed. that is all i am saying. it is going to be hard but i think we can succeed. shuja: picking up on that and something you said earlier, their organizations that you named that have been operating and that are continuing to operate in afghanistan even today despite the fact there is danger to their staff and particularly difficulty in moving money in and out of the country. maybe you can talk a little about your knowledge of the region experience.
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and to what extent has the 782 million the u.s. has spent on humanitarian aid now, to what extent is that reaching the right people? john: let me answer that question first. we have not looked at the current humanitarian assistance because it is so new. so we have not had a chance to look at that and to see how it has been designed and how it is being spent. the norwegians are a long way -- a number of other countries referred to as the nordics have done an excellent job on doing oversight over the 20 years in afghanistan.
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the norwegians i believe are still -- they have a monitoring program because they still are funding de-mining operations in afghanistan. as far as we know in our latest audit of the mining program was very positive of how the norwegians did it. rather than me tell you how they do monitoring, i would highly recommend you reach out to these countries. we are not the center of all knowledge and all good. we should be humble about this. the norwegians did an excellent job. we can learn a lot from the germans. they did an excellent job in some of their programs and some of their assistance programs over the last 20 years. the japanese did an excellent job. there are some countries we don't really view as major players but they did an excellent job of doing work in
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afghanistan. likewise, i go back to a foundation. both you and i remember the head of the washington office who when i first started working 10 years ago took me aside and explained how they work and introduced me to his colleagues in afghanistan. they did an excellent job. there money was not wasted. doctors without borders is in organization we can learn from. they have been operating since the original taliban take over. as far as we know and we don't audit them because they don't accept any u.s. money. they don't accept money from anybody or any government i should said say -- i should say. their people have been very positive about how they have
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operated without major loss and it is a loss of funds. we can learn from all of these. shuja: as my friend once said to me when we were discussing my book at the atlantic council, he said his or two words not frequently used in washington so i am glad you are using them. one issue that has gotten some focus is the neighbors of afghanistan. our efforts going to be important as that something the u.s. and western allies should pursue? in that connection, i can think of no one better than -- of
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pakistan. tiktok perhaps first how he sees pakistan's role -- to talk perhaps how he sees pakistan role. playing a double game with its partners of the coalition. and also its potential role as regional partner with other countries whether desire ran, russia, india -- whether it is iran, russia, india. i'm going to ask them to join
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the conversation. i think you need to unmute yourself. thank you. >> can you hear me now? shuja: yes, we can. thank you. >> sorry for wasting your time. i'm not very good at these things. my grandchildren make fun of me. coming to pakistan, -- we are a medium-sized country and a developing country. the soviet union and the united states. we have -- with india, i believe we had four wars pick the last
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one was in 1998 with cashmere. the international community was aware of the human rights there. i'm not going to touch on that. what i'm going to say is -- we have made mistakes. who has not when you have for 40 years have war on your border? you are forced into situations. even when the united states on 9/11, i think my predecessor, the foreign minister then has mentioned the circumstances under which pakistan was operating and joined the united states. the situation like that, we are bound to have made mistakes. i am grateful to mr. john sopko.
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this was a speech he made to military reporters in arlington, virginia on the 20th of october 2021. those of you who follow sigar's work know this is a problem we reported on for years. contractors and other enablers -- we all know the u.s. agencies have not made honesty reporting easy for sigar. it was not just bad for sigar.
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it is bad for pakistan. probably pakistan would come in for less -- we have been blamed. it is a very different situation. it should not be forgotten we hosted 3.5 million afghan refugees, which was the largest that time in the world. you asked me recently what pakistan has done. we organized an extraordinary meeting of the foreign ministers of the islamic cooperation. united states, european union, united nations, russia, china were all invited. secretary blinken complemented pakistan for holding the conference. we have been providing aid. we have done as much as we could. even though we have not had the best of relations with india, but they offered to help
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transport. i hope this means we will get through to afghanistan. pakistan is doing the best it can. as far as the regional efforts are consent, apart from the organization of islamic conference, we have asked opec countries. i'm very happy. the timing today is three days after the oslo conference, in which the united states and many european countries. seven officials were chosen. [indiscernible]
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this is a very positive development. the holding of the oslo conference. regardless of what -- [indiscernible] the pakistan -- they need to improve the human rights record. if afghanistan does not improve the situation, we will be the prime sufferers. i thank you for affording me this opportunity for this intervention. it was a great learning experience today learning from mr. sopko there are many things
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to take from the norwegians. i have made reference to his speech. his remarks need to be taken into consideration. and sent to afghanistan. shuja: we appreciate your intervention. john, if you could hold off on your reactions, i wanted to bring in a colleague of ours. an ambassador who is among our senior fellows at the atlantic council. before he became the afghan ambassador to the uae and now having resigned from that position, he was involved in negotiations and discussions between president biden and president ashraf ghani. he knows a lot about the end
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game of the previous regime. let me ask him -- first to respond to the comments the minister made. but also to give us a sense of what was going on in the afghan government in those final days with reverence to what ambassador sopko said. >> it was great to hear special inspector sopko. there is plenty of blame to be thrown around. the blame game is like an onion. it has so many lawyers. -- so many layers.
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[indiscernible] i think it is fair to say at the end of the day the taliban were fundamentally under terrible. -- fundamentally undeterrable. they were a suicidal enemy. their goals were fixed, which was to take over the country and i think for that goal, they made it clear they were really to pay any cost to achieve it. i think for too long, neither side was winning. we increasingly saw from the inside we have that bit of foresight. you can call it the writing on the wall or the writing on the back of the wall but we saw it.
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how one side was losing more and more slowly. the problem was the taliban operated with a certain conviction that any resistance against them foreign or domestic was pointless. because the taliban were considered an expensive enemy, some countries in the region thought the taliban could prove to be a cheaper partner than the previous government in that enterprise. i think we are seeing this buyer's remorse because -- i think it is no surprise the way their government and based on the absolute terms, they want to deal with them based on those terms. if you asked me, did we misjudge the taliban, absolutely not.
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external factors that facilitated the taliban's behavior, absolutely yes. pakistan really was accepting that as one of the goals of misjudgments in allowing them to do whatever they were doing. it really was an important factor. the government was to be planed. -- was to be blamed. there was a pakistan element. this is also something the united states needs to pay more attention to going forward. i think this was mentioned in your remarks.
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the united states never had a winning chance because of the pakistan problem should it is not a blame game. pakistan always provided this unpredictability in their partnership with the taliban. the afghan government arguably did not always have the longer-term predictability. the afghan government was a problem but the sporadic western approach we saw, it did not really help. pakistan's competitive advantage, there symbiotic partnership with the taliban. an artificial deadline on their support. the taliban was always open to
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partnership with some tactical exceptions. it worked perfectly. now there is a buyers remorse. from what i am seeing right now is there less concerned about cross-border terrorism from afghanistan but more concerned about intergovernmental management in the taliban. shuja: thank you. i think some would argue that situation may be unraveling. john sopko and you both could address a question that has come from the audience, which is the accusation that president connie was -- president ghani was faced with a whole bunch of cash or took cash with him when he left the country. has there been any investigation on the part of sigar? are you familiar with the details of this allegation?
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>> i'm aware of the allegation that was made but i'm not aware of the details. i believe this is a special inspector sopko was looking into this but i am not aware. this is a question for john and of course for president ghani himself to answer. john: certainly. thank you for that question. we are looking at a number of allegations. the fact that we are looking at allegations, some of these we have been asked by congress to look into and some are quite obvious from press reporting. the fact we are looking at those allegations does not mean they are true or not. all i can say at this point is we are looking into that. we have been asked by congress to look at a number of issues,
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which we are currently looking at including why did the government of afghanistan fall so quickly? why did the military collapse so quickly? what happened to all the weapons? what happens all the money we were sending until the end. money, fuel, things like that. as well as what happened to all the afghan judges, police, journalists and people in afghanistan who believed in us and believed in democracy? what has happened to them? we will be reporting on all of those issues hopefully at least preliminarily in march or april, early this year to congress and then to the american people. it will take a little bit longer. we have multiple teams out right
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now ted can i just say one thing? again, we are humble enough we don't have all the answers and we get a lot of information from people contacting us. if anybody listening now or looking at this over youtube or whatever has information, please don't hesitate to send it to us. www. sigar. -- give anonymity and we were protect our sources. we have got into a number of lawsuits with the washington post and we won where they wanted us to reveal the names of people who asked for anonymity in our reports. we fought them and won and we will do that. we are looking forward to hearing from people weather in
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afghanistan or around the world and we have teams right now interviewing people around the world to try to answer these questions. this is a long answer but i cannot say what if anything we are finding about these allegations about president ghani but we are looking at more people than president ghani about taking money out of the country. shuja: i would like to pick up on something. pakistan was a stanza blue a partner of the united states -- was a stanza blue a partner of the united states. we talk about an on-again, off-again kind of relationship as they tried to hedge their bets to retain ties to the predominantly afghan insurgents.
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she heads a think tank. she is a member of the atlantic council. i'm going to ask her to pitch in at this point. is pakistan ready to play a positive role or is it largely on the back foot now vis-a-vis the u.s. that is forcing it to choose between -- and china? >> thank you for the invitation to be here. it has been an enlightening discussion. i have a couple of questions for mr. sopko but to start off with answering your question, i think pakistan is in for an awakening
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with respect to how its relationship is unraveling with the taliban. and also for the rest of the world, who thought that -- and therefore -- now they can openly see the challenges pakistan has had ever since the taliban has come to power in kabul. they have had issues over the international border. we have had issues with the fencing. we are fed issues with the taliban going to india seeking humanitarian assistance. and above all, we have had no commitment on terrorism emanating from afghanistan into pakistan. these are huge challenges pakistan is dealing with currently with respect to the taliban regime.
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i don't think pakistan is in a position or is being forced by the u.s. to pick a side. the development and foreign office has been good about stating they are not going to play politics. this is not a nuclear war. pakistan knows what is in its national interest and it needs to be clear about it. i don't think pakistan at the stage or in the later stage is going to take any sides. i have a couple questions if you allow me to go to mr. sopko. what has the u.s. experience with corruption been in afghanistan? monitoring a multi-donor operation with $8 billion, i believe is going to be a challenging task. earlier, there was poor oversight in practices and the pressure was to spend --
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in the 10 points you have mentioned, you have talked about money. where are the people? what if these people go in with this much money from various agencies and there is a hostage situation? what is going to happen then? is there any strategy for that? are people thinking about that? there is also this concern that this conditional aid and the going in, there will be a parallel at the moment which will have a billion dollars to spend in the name of humanitarian assistance without recognizing or legitimizing the current taliban regime should what are some of the support systems on ground they are going to be outsourcing or contracting? what is the system on ground and
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pakistan would like to know that? lastly, i would like to know what does the military and assistance include? does it only me and providing food to people and keeping them warm for the winter? what about their jobs? don't they need dignity and hope as much as they need bread? who is going to provide them those? when $8 billion have finished, what is next? these are some of the questions to i think it needs -- the questions. there needs to be a strategy. there needs to be an all hands on the deck approach. the problem is not a small one to deal with so your answers would be appreciated. shuja: i should clarify that she is referring to the u.n. aspirational goal of 8 billion. not the u.s.'s goals. john: this is the report that
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just came out. nobody can see it but it just came out yesterday from the u.n., the transitional engagement and framework. i highly recommend people to read it. let me first of all try to answer the questions. i have the same questions you have. my office does. a lot of people in congress, in the press have the same questions. first of all, $8 billion is a lot of money. what are you going to do with $8 billion? they don't really say in great detail. what happens when that money goes to afghanistan? how is it -- what is the system in place? i gave 10 principles of what that system should look like but no one has articulated it. we don't know what is going on. just so you know, that is the u.n. strategy. they have talked to us but that is not something we wrote.
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i think these are important questions. you ask a really important question about hostages. or threats on the aid providers. and i think that is a serious risk. we have to take into consideration, but let me go back to a question shuja ask ed in. me. i have mentioned to yemen where we sent people in. it was a hostage situation there. as far as i know, if there were any problems, they were resolved. we have also done it in syria. i broke down a list of the countries we know of. miramar, sudan and somalia.
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military and aid was provided to the people but it does not -- humanitarian aid was provided to the people. i'm not responsible for for africa or myanmar. we know it has been successful in some countries. we have to look to them to see how well the u.n. came up with a program should my concern -- a program. my concern is in our biggest concern based upon the expense and afghanistan is there was a tendency in both aid and states and the treasury to some extent to basically wash the hands of the affair once they gave the money to the u.n. or the world bank. we saw minimal oversight by our
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government agencies. and we pointed that out. we also saw serious problems with oversight provided by the u.n. and the world bank. that is the warning i am sending out. if we continue with this money, the humanitarian aid and we don't require the world bank to do a good job or the u.n. or asian development bank or whomever is going to handle it, we are going to waste all the money. all the problems you identified will happen. what is humanitarian aid? i view it as we have a crisis with people starving to death, freezing to death and they cannot eat. they cannot go to the hospital. these services have to be provided. does this include getting salaries to the doctors or the nurses or people in afghanistan
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to carry out this function? i assume it does. by nature it does. will there be divergent to the taliban? -- diversion to the taliban? if the taliban is smart, they won't try to put their hands on the money but there probably is going to be some leakage. that is why we say the donors have to come up with what is an acceptable amount of leakage to the taliban. what you are talking about is actually starting development aid. the u.n. document headset that. i am not saying we should or should not. i think right now we have a crisis of afghans freezing and starving to death and dying of diseases. that is humanitarian aid. if the united states government which they have said, they want
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to help those afghans. we are saying here the 10 things you need to keep in mind and does not get diverted to beltway bandits in the united states. nobody wants the money to go to the taliban. shuja: i'm glad you pointed out corruption is not endemic to afghanistan alone. we have noticed a lot inside the beltway and you have identified some of the culprits to the taliban -- the culprits are the taliban government itself should not be credited as being unified or cohesive either. that is what you are referring to. as the aid moves from kabul down to the provinces, will collectors take over? they are not often on the same page. it will be very tough to implement these measures as you
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said. preparing for some leakage is something that is part and parcel of the humanitarian effort. one issue that keeps coming up and i think it is time we discussed it in some detail is a question of helping future of women and girls and their education. the taliban held a reputation and a deserved reputation against girls education should true to form, though they stopped the education of girls and a secondary schools under the pretext they were trying to prepare to separate boys and girls. the demand for girls education remains high in afghanistan . it is unabated. we are delighted we have with us
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a well-known activist for girls education in afghanistan. even now after having been a target of the taliban, after having escaped from afghanistan, she is in the united states, she is contending her efforts to educate girls inside afghanistan. could you tell us what can be done for the girls of afghanistan? >> thank you so much. i think we have to start looking at the situation -- also the fact that girls from class seven to class 12's are targets of the taliban are stopped from going to school. even the federal border comment
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-- there are many women who can say a lot of things about afghan girls and their education. i don't have much more to comment on that. when it comes to the practical solution, we have to understand is is not the first time the taliban has talked about girls not going to school. we are coming to practical solutions because we work on the ground should there are two ways to go. with mass education, which -- that is being done. i don't want to go into the details about what needs to be done apart from that.
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education is important in afghanistan. let us help people look at it. -- that is how people look at it. list the future for girls in afghanistan yucca -- what is the future for girls in afghanistan ? afghanistan is a poor country. education leads to a responsible citizen who pays taxes. we should be providing the job opportunities to the women and girls of afghanistan.
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the fact that afghanistan holds that power right now, that needs to be taken. spacex is launching satellites for afghanistan filling the digital gap. it is the most important thing we can do. this has been done in tunisia and it has worked. it is helping to me just not afghanistan? -- it is helping tunisia so why not afghanistan? i understand when people talk to me and tell me afghanistan is a country with no electricity or internet.
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the internet problems are being solved by spacex. solar panels is a good alternative. the solution comes to electricity. once the electricity is solved and internet is solved, we need to do is have -- you can learn in your own native eye which is to -- your own native languages. even if you don't have internet [indiscernible] my grandmother had a radio.
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the radio is something we are working on. practically, we are opening up ways they can access education. when we look at afghanistan education policy, in the past, education is where they got a lot of aid. workers going to school. i am a product of those students. i have got a u.s. id.
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but also for the fact that girls education is being politicized right now. those who want to talk are not given the place to talk. [indiscernible]
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-- we have see who the region is supporting, and what the future holds. for the growth of pakistan, too. >> i think you raise an important point. the contagion effect of the taliban to education and how it could actually be exported to pakistan. something they should be worried about over time. appreciate your suggestions. maybe i can add one. that is that the collections, instead of building a fence on 98% of the border, be they can set up repeater stations and provide so that service is available to them.
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that is just my humble suggestion. with your permission, let's see to my friend christina lam. she has been most patient. not only have you been patiently waiting, but also because -- a person currently in afghanistan. a genuine reporter. further -- for those who don't know you, i'm sure there are not many in the audience, you have decades of experience. your book was a fantastic reppo taj and assemblage on the war. our bodies, which i heard about
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after i was in touch with you. the report on the plight of women in conflict across the globe. you have been doing incredibly important work. and this book is heart wrenching and a must-read. do you think the solutions that are suggested and the others have been offering will work? where do you stay on the ground today? >> thanks for that very nice introduction. nice to see so many old friends. i wish we were talking about something a bit more cheerful. it is heartbreaking being here. my backers in september and october a month ago. i came back to the beginning of this week.
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maybe it will be useful. you talked about the desperate situation to actually go into someone's house in kabul, where there are 30 people living, and getting eight pieces of bread a day, that is all they are getting. nobody has worked. it is freezing. it was -16 this morning. the only fire they have is picking up bits of rubbish and lighting that as firewood. this family i was with yesterday , one of the families people have heard about, they had sold their eight-year-old daughter because they had no other alternatives. yesterday morning before i arrived, they owe money because one of the moms was
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heard in a bomb blast. and her treatment, money for that. people owed money asked for the money back. there is no way, they don't have anything. so he offered them his three month old daughter. this is absolutely so heartbreaking to see. and it is not just -- it is also a lot of middle-class poverty, because so many people have lost their jobs. a family, or university educated, stay enlightened, all of the daughters have been educated, they work as prosecutors, as teachers, pharmacists, all kinds of different jobs. they all lost their jobs since
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the taliban has taken over. the family who was comfortably off suddenly has no income coming in. so they said cauliflower lunchtime and evening, then they said they would have the rest in the evening. outside kabul and about two hours away, there has been some discussion about how the aid would be administered. as she saw it in practice, the money coming in from the program. you may have seen pictures of these pallets flying into the airport. so it is cash aid on every family that had been designated as honorable by an afghan partner. coming with a card. 4000 afghan knees.
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a month to live on. those people were in those areas. they had completely failed. there was no wheat or corn. it is such a perfect storm. you have freezing temperatures. you have the worst drought that they remember. people have a lost their jobs. the prices have gone up. i told you they were given 4000 afghani's. a sack of flour is 2500. that is more than half of your month eight gone on the flour. it is really desperate, some of the people said they had been eating grass because there was nothing else. one of the people i spoke to, it might be interesting from how this happened, how the taliban
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took over. they had a big army base with people who had been soldiers. one them had been working on strategy. he said of course people didn't fight, because they were taking money we were supposed to get, not getting equipment, didn't have properties. just had no sense that anyone cared, so how do you expect people to fight when the taliban came? that was very telling. >> he seem worried about the treatment of minorities, because it appears afghan history, whenever there are problems, they are on the front of suffering. >> last time i was here, it went
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up to the people there. i'm sure they notice where they would burn up. in that area. and was treated very badly last time by the taliban. there were massacres. pretty much needing to go this time to blow up the statute to one of the leaders. so that didn't fit very well. and a lot of people in hiding and fearing that there were to be re-prices. i have not gone back this time. that time was only a few weeks off from the takeover. i don't really know what the situation is. interesting is talking to some of the women. i went to a group of women in hiding among those brave women
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coming out testing every week. they were in the group's papers. last week. two of them had been apparently abducted. these girls, there were four of them. taliban had gone to their houses and they managed to escape. they were now in hiding. absolutely terrifying. we were in our apartment. it was dark. there was no electricity. suddenly, there was a banging on the door. i had never seen people looking so terrified. they were absolutely so scared. it is interesting. they were saying to me they are angry about the talks, because those women did not represent
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them, or the activists you talk to outside have all fled the country. we are the people still in the country. nobody spoke to us. they are feeling as if people should not give aid to afghanistan because the taliban will automatically, even if they don't take any, is going to make it better because the country will function better and be happier if they are getting the economy. but how can you not give aid when i described the desperate situation we were in? >> thank you, christina. that is heart-wrenching. let me go back to john and ask if he thinks under these conditions it is still possible for aid to get distributed, given the low level of thievery as well.
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the other various numbers is how well you are coordinating your efforts with the inspectors general and other organizations inside the u.s. government. where u.s. aid does go directly through afghanistan, how effective will your supervision and review be? >> again, let me answer your first question first. that is important. we think if you follow our 10 principles, these common steps and look to countries who have organizations that have
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successfully done this type of work in countries i have mentioned yemen, somalia, syria, myanmar. it can't be done. is it going to be spillage or wastage? of course. when we had a cooperative government for the last 20 years, we still had over 30% of the money wasted. but it can be done. you have to accept there will be some loss. that is a policy decision. you also have to accept the problems -- i think christina just noted them. people with grass. maybe humanitarian need to send the money right now. obviously there is. how do we coordinate?
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we coordinated on a daily basis. although i think the aid programs are so new, it is hard to say how coordination will work. the largest oversight and investigative body u.s. in afghanistan and the time we were doing it. you still have the expertise. we will see how that is coordinated. one other thing, keep in mind we should talk to -- the one point that was made by one of our speakers is we need to talk to people who understand what is going on on the ground. it was alluded to we had a women's program. it was designed by westerners who did not really talk to afghans about the program. that is one of the lessons we
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need to learn. our colleague actually helped us when we did our review of the women's program in afghanistan. let's make certain if you are the u.n., or whoever is working there, that you talk to the people on the ground. the people who have recently been on the ground. and that designed the programs accordingly. if we don't do that, we run the risk of failure. >> adding a few words on this. she is the one who talked about it. she is the one still trying her best continue educating. >> thank you. i think you have to talk to people on the ground. there are others i can name, but
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i don't want to take a lot of your time. the majority have been disastrous. we are a different country. we are not the u.s.. on my body, the way i am dressed, it doesn't have to be the western dress. one has to understand this. i come from a country from condor, so it is a very different empowerment than that of the western women. you have to understand that. the second, when you are designing projects what they have designed in the last 20 years, they didn't work because we were in an idealistic situation catering to the elite. outside the outskirts of kabul, and there are -- that are there. instead of sending one women group projects, or back to them.
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it is because -- like recipes, we don't have that incentive. the human capacity, most importantly, stop listening to people who can speak english. i know i can speak english, but i speak very good passionate, too. talking to people with different passports. and it comes off as strong, but it is very understandable. we have to lead. and going back, because my family lived it. the second and most important thing is afghanistan is not a project, it is a crunchy. it needs to be treated like a country. the people need sustainable
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jobs. they are feeling happy about it, even if it is the u.s., the u.n., whoever. let us have those accounts. you legitimized the taliban. make them accountable. the least the u.s. can do is make 30 to 40 people in afghanistan who would have to speak english. or actually have solutions. how to focus on the humanitarian response, health care, education, clean water, heating problems. that is a big problem. you need people who are solution oriented, sustainability focused. and who were not in afghanistan for a political position or regional position.
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and that should be men and women of afghanistan. sometimes i think out of afghanistan, but also, it works nicely. not being self-centered. we need that in afghanistan. in reality, working for afghanistan. hester, you need mobile units. mobile units if you are sending them to the villages. that is people oriented. you need humanitarian aid, what happened, where is the money, what was created. you want to focus on education, if the taliban are not allowing it to the public, women in their own houses --
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they can educate themselves. these are definitely solutions that are not in right now. all these big organizations, the head of condor, $5,000 -- [indiscernible] so you have to understand a person who gets $5,000 won't continue having $5,000. one packet of love every four or five months. not even that when -- >> i really appreciate that as a wrap up on our very fast 90 minutes. i hope you agree you may have contorts for your next project and how to assess the people of
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afghanistan and thank you to the entire panel. and christina lam, of course. this was one of the fastest 90 minutes on record, given the equality and base of the discussion. the repeated questions for the consciousness of this issue for afghanistan and how high the opportunity cost is of in action in helping the people of afghanistan. thank you all for joining us. and thank you for your time. and
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