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Helga Zepp-LaRouche Inspires Pakistani Audience With ‘Operation Ibn Sina’

Jan. 18, 2022 (EIRNS)—Participating in a panel discussion on the Views on News program of Pakistan’s public broadcasting channel, PTV World, today, Schiller Institute founder and chairwoman Helga Zepp-LaRouche delivered a concise, hard-hitting, 10-minute briefing on how to win the global fight to defeat the military-industrial-Wall Street/City of London-complex’s unipolar war drive, using the urgency of saving Afghans from death as a fulcrum to build cooperation between the strategic powers, including the United States.

The subjects of the program were Vladimir Putin’s phone call yesterday with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, during which they discussed areas for cooperation, and how PM Khan had thanked Putin for his Dec. 23 remarks rejecting the Islamophobia so prevalent in the Western world today, and Putin’s specifically attacking the cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad. Self-satisfied Americans would do well to take note of the deep anger expressed by the moderator Faisal Rehman, and two other Pakistani participants against U.S. “brow-beating” of countries around the world, with sanctions, bans, military invasions, which led one even to argue that Russia, China, and Central Asian and many other nations of the world should have nothing to do with the United States, if they want to survive.

Zepp-LaRouche’s proposal of “Operation Ibn Sina”—to make the name of Ibn Sina (Avicenna, in the West), the great Islamic philosopher and physician, who discovered how quarantines can end epidemics, synonymous with the actions required to save Afghanistan—sparked real excitement in this emotional environment. Former Pakistani Defense Minister, retired Lt. Gen. Naeem Khalid Lodhi, who was another of the speakers on the panel, responded with enthusiasm as she outlined the idea, and then thanked her for refreshing their memories about this great person, and for the proposal to give the name of Ibn Sina to saving the Afghan people.  The entire Views on News program can be found here.


Afghanistan Crisis: Humanity Comes First!

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”                                                                                                                  –Mark 8:36

The head of the United Nations World Food Program, American David Beasley, has fought to bring to the world’s attention the now-unfolding catastrophe in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a nation which has known nothing but war and internal conflict for more than 40 years. The rapidly worsening multiple crises in that nation–lack of food, lack of health care, lack of a sovereign national credit system, lack of production–demand immediate solutions in the next weeks, if the world wishes to avoid the unnecessary, unwarranted deaths of millions– many of them children, who have clearly offended no one. Over 20 million people are presently at risk. Geopolitical rationalizations for continuing inaction, from “taking cautious steps to not allow the Afghanistan government to exploit our good will” to “demanding that other countries step up,” will do almost as much to take the lives of the innocent, through depraved indifference, as the coming famine 

Several of us have been outraged by the callous indifference expressed in the worldwide, persistent inequality of efficient distribution of medical care, not merely in the selective availability and affordability of life-saving medicines, but in the widening disparity in available basic facilities and capabilities. Whole continents, such as Africa, are stigmatized as “disease farms” because of deplorable economic conditions that are conveniently perpetuated but then never actually improved. That happened in the 1980s with HIV/AIDS, and is happening today with COVID-19. The clearly man-made Afghanistan disaster is an opportunity to reverse that syndrome. . A crucial first step would be the release of the $9.5 billion of assets of Afghanistan’s central bank, which are currently being held in the United States.

Why? That nation, familiar to the United States, Russia, China and several NATO countries, as well as the five other states that border it, has a clearly urgent, largely war-induced set of problems that could be quickly resolved, and offers a test case for how to actually uproot war, through multinational cooperation involving even real and/or imagined enemies working together for a common good. This Afghanistan initiative has been called “Operation Ibn Sina” after the great Islamic physician known for centuries as “the father of modern medicine” and who comes from that general vicinity. In contrast, it is perhaps the lack of exactly such initiatives that begin with compassion for, and cooperation with others, that has allowed COVID-19 to grow from being a relatively controllable epidemic to a pandemic, and is causing that pandemic to worsen by the hour. That would not be the first time that the vice of selfishness had doomed mankind. Historian Barbara Tuchman, in “The March of Folly,” warns us: “A phenomenon noticeable throughout history, regardless of place or period, is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests.” 


We who have devoted our lives to acting upon the conviction, so eloquently enunciated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” say that there is no injustice like famine, no crime worse than slowly snuffing out the life of a child through neglect, through depraved indifference. Though the need is equally important everywhere, the time to change “the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests,” and those of humanity, is now. The world can–must– choose one place, this Christmas season, to begin a march in the opposite direction, and prevent the slaughter of the innocent upon the altar of a geopolitical folly that would sacrifice both conscience and true self-interest for the aura of power.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former United States Surgeon General – On behalf on the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites 

December 23, 2021

Dr. Walter Faggett, pediatrician, Col. U.S. Army (ret.), former Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health of Washington D.C., professor of medicine Howard University

Dr. Bennett Greenspan, Founder Family Tree DNA

Ernest Johnson, President of the Louisiana NAACP, civil rights attorney

Barbara Kamara, former Associate Commissioner, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for the National Head Start Program (Carter Administration); former Director of Early Childhood Education, Washington DC, for 22 years

Dr. Khadijah Lang, pediatrician, Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the National Medical Association, President of the Golden State Medical Association, the California branch of the NMA 


Afghanistan—‘Act Now’!

Jan. 5 (EIRNS)—Today a 30-second video was issued by David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP) on Afghanistan, showing both hungry children, and also food delivery, with the text: “The situation in Afghanistan may have faded from the front page, but don’t let Afghan families fade from your mind. 8.7 million people are on the brink of starvation. Read that again: 8.7 million people are on the brink of starvation. What we do today has the power to change the fate of more than 23 million people. Act now.” Beasley’s immediate message, tweeted with the video, is for WFP donations. He wrote, “The Year 2021 has been a catastrophic year for the people of Afghanistan. Millions of Afghans are counting on WFP for life-saving food this winter. Help us help them.”

However, Beasley’s imperative about keeping in our minds what is important about Afghanistan—the value of human life—is what applies across the board to the crises we now face. Think it through. We are capable of mobilizing the physical resources and logistics to stop mass death in Afghanistan. It takes concerted action. The Schiller Institute will host another conference in mid-January (date to be determined soon) on action in Afghanistan.

Look at the pandemic in the same way. The same principle applies. In China, concerted action has kept the COVID-19 case rate and death toll very low, with massive testing and contact tracing, as well as localized lockdowns. In contrast, the pandemic virus is now surging in multiple locations elsewhere in Asia, in the trans-Atlantic, the Americas and Africa. On Jan. 4, the daily case count was 2.594 million cases officially reported worldwide (a big undercount), of which 35%, 885,500 cases, were in the United States alone.

The Schiller Institute/Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites is preparing an emergency statement of action points required to save lives and roll back the virus. The outline and principle are the same as in prior statements, but with measures specific to the unfolding events. (Prior statements: “LaRouche’s ‘Apollo Mission’ To Defeat the Global Pandemic: Build a World Health System Now,” April 11, 2020; ‘Global Health Security Requires Medical Infrastructure in Every Country—Major Industrial Nations Must Collaborate Now!” May 14, 2021, submitted to the Global Health Summit in Rome; “Open Letter to Virologists and Medical Experts Around the World To Address the COVID-19 Pandemic,” by former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, Nov. 23, 2021; and others.)

There are initiatives in the needed direction. Yesterday, for example, the importance of rapidly expanding medical staff, by calling back into action retirees, was stressed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, when he declared an official state of emergency. There are many measures that are clearly bipartisan and nonpartisan, overriding the non-stop partisan shouting going on in the U.S. For example, use the Defense Production Act, as was done under Trump, to get all needed items, from material for construction of hospitals and medical materials, to COVID-19 therapeutics in quantity. Ramp up production of antiviral medications and all kinds of monoclonal antibodies, currently scarce.

Mobilizing for emergency action and a world health platform, with a focus on Afghanistan, are entirely consistent with the drive to stop the nuclear war danger. The meetings set for next week, on the initiative of Russia, are critical for that: Jan. 10 in Geneva, between the U.S. and Russia; Jan. 12 in Brussels, between NATO and Russia; and Jan. 13 in Vienna, with Russia and the OSCE. But there are countermoves underway.

Circulate everywhere the Schiller Institute Memorandum, Are We Sleepwalking into Thermonuclear World War III?


The OIC Commits to Coordinated Aid To Afghanistan; Now for World Action—Our ‘Historical Mission’

Dec. 19 (EIRNS)–On Sunday, the Council of Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met in extraordinary session in Pakistan, and agreed upon resolutions for coordinated humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, and measures for economic functioning. Follow-up mechanisms were specified to implement the decisions of the OIC. Attending the meeting were 70 delegates, representing member countries, guest nations, international financial and UN aid agencies. The OIC, with 57 member nations, is the largest such world body after the United Nations. But even so, what determines what will happen for the Afghanistan people and nation, the greater region, and world situation, requires a shift in approach to abandon deadly geopolitics, and launch concerted positive action among major powers.

This was stressed on Friday, the opening day of the three-day OIC meetings in Islamabad, by Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche, appearing in a discussion on Pakistan’s national television PTV, which covered the OIC proceedings intensively. She said, “In a certain sense, to get all the forces internationally together to help Afghanistan is, in my view, one of the absolute, important historical missions. In a certain, I think the whole destiny of mankind is in a laser, concentrated on what happens in Afghanistan. So, I would really hope that all the participating and affected countries would double and multiply their efforts to make saving Afghanistan an issue of the whole world, because right now it is. And I think all channels must be used: media, United Nations, conferences. There must be a drumbeat, a drumbeat of awakening the conscience of the world, because I think this is sort of a judgment of our ability as a human species: Are we morally fit to survive or not?”

What is happening this evening is that pledges are starting from OIC nations, on what donations they will commit, for purposes of urgent relief operations. From preliminary reports, the framework that is to administer ongoing aid includes several features. A resolution was adopted unanimously that the OIC will set up a Humanitarian Trust Fund and a Food Security Program. The OIC meeting requested that the existing Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) work with this new Food Security Program for Afghanistan, including using IOFS reserves, when warranted. The Humanitarian Trust Fund is to come into operation during the First Quarter of 2022, under the auspices of the Islamic Development Bank.

In Kabul, the existing OIC Mission is to be reinforced with more logistical, financial and staff resources to enable it to coordinate operations with global agencies and partnerships. These include the obvious UN agencies, from UNICEF, to the World Food Program, and other organizations. A priority will be working with the World Health Organization for vaccines and medical supplies.

There will be support for the Afghan refugees who have fled to neighboring countries, and for the internally displaced within Afghanistan. An estimated 665,000 people have been displaced just between January and September 2021, over and above the 2.9 million already dislocated within their nation. In brief, 60% of the population of 38 million people face crisis levels of hunger, and lack of necessities for life.

The conference welcomed the offer by Uzbekistan to create, with UN efforts, a regional logistics hub in Termez city, to handle the shipment of humanitarian material into Afghanistan. The OIC meeting approved the designation of Ambassador Tarig Ali Bakhit Salah, Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian, Cultural and Family Affairs at the OIC Secretariat, to be OIC Special Envoy to Afghanistan for the OIC Secretary General, to coordinate efforts, and provide reports to the OIC. The Humanitarian Trust Fund is to be up and running within the first quarter of 2022.

It is reported by APP (AP Pakistan,) that there was an urgent appeal made for large-scale projects in the multi-nation region, to serve reconstruction and development. In general, this should include energy, transportation and communication projects. Two mentioned were the TAPI Pipeline, and the TAP (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan) electricity transmission line. Participants in the deliberation drew attention to the importance of the 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization, which met on Nov. 28, 2021, in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

The second area of OIC action, alongside the humanitarian, food-aid and anti-pandemic work, concerns creating the banking, credit and related conditions to serve a re-established functioning economy, and for reconstruction. The Council of Foreign Ministers decided, according to the report by APP, that exploratory talks “to unlock the financial and banking channels to resume liquidity and flow of financial and humanitarian assistance” should commence under the direction of the OIC General Secretariat, and the Islamic Development Bank. APP added that, participants discussed “exploring realistic pathways towards unfreezing Afghanistan’s financial assets.”

Here is where the outright clash comes in with the networks in London, Washington D.C., and co-conspirators, which insist on wrongfully withholding $9.5 billion in Afghanistan state assets, sorely needed for government and economic functions. An especially ugly, duplicitous public relations campaign is going on in the United States, where two open statements were issued this past week, crying crocodile tears, asserting that some of the $9.5 billion should be unfrozen, and used to “directly help the Afghan people,” but only if allocated directly through non-Kabul government, non-Taliban, UN or other agencies. One letter was from former military figures, in connection with the infamous Atlantic Council, and the other letter was from a group of 39 Congressmen, either ignorant, gullible, corrupt, or all three.

No nation exists without functioning institutions. There is no independence without economic sovereignty. Withholding the funds, or arrogating decision-making over their use means destroying a nation. This will do the job by genocide, that 20 years of military presence and non-development didn’t do in Afghanistan. This is a moral test for the West.

What needs to be done with the funds, and in general in Afghanistan is presented in the newly-released EIR interview with Dr. Shah Mehrabi, for 20 years on the Board of Governors of the Da Afghanistan Bank, the central bank of Afghanistan.

Our role is indispensable in getting out such policy interventions, along with getting out the truth on the scale of the emergency in Afghanistan, which is being blacked out severely in the Trans-Atlantic media. The Zepp-LaRouche call for Operation Ibn Sina to bring a modern healthcare platform to the country is a call for world action. Shining the light on Afghanistan and mobilizing for what must be done, spreads understanding of the necessity to end the grip of the imperialist foreign policy and globalist financial system everywhere, now in breakdown, and threatening nuclear war.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche ended her remarks on PTV Dec. 17 by summarizing, “So in one sense, I think the fate of Afghanistan and the fate of humanity are much more closely connected than most people can imagine.”


Pakistan TV Special Broadcast on OIC Extraordinary Meeting On Afghanistan Gets Briefing From Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Hussein Askary

Dec. 17 (EIRNS)—What follows are the exchanges with Helga Zepp-LaRouche and Hussein Askary on Pakistan’s PTV panel discussion on the Organization of Islamic Countries’ Extraordinary Meeting on Afghanistan. PTV’s host was Faisal Rehman. The two-part broadcast included in-studio guests, former Ambassador Naila Chuhan, and defense analyst Lt. Gen. Talat Masood (ret.), with Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche online from Germany; and in the second part, defense analyst Lt. Gen. Raza Muhammad Khan (ret.) and former Ambassador Naghmana Hashmi in studio, with Schiller Institute analyst Hussein Askary online from Sweden. Although time did not allow for transcribing the other guests, their remarks reflected important thinking, including our influence and is worth watching at this link

FAISAL REHMAN: Assalamualaikum, you’re watching PTV World, and I’m Faisal Rehman with a special cast mission on this very important OIC conference that has been held in Islamabad. And as we all know, the main reason is about the Afghan crisis. This is in fact the largest gathering after the Aug. 15, when the Taliban took over the regime in Afghanistan. As we all know, winter has approached, there are a lot of crisis, whether we talk about the economic upset that is there, or we talk about the banking collapse; there is lack of flow of money, so the government in Afghanistan currently can’t even pay the salaries of the government employees. And having said that, the crisis is so huge, that it is believed that 60% of the total population of Afghanistan is at the verge of almost starvation. There is no medical facilities as such, and the people are really depending on the neighboring countries, such as Pakistan, and Iran, perhaps; and on the northern side, the Central Asian countries as well.

But having said that, now the issue is so huge that Pakistan in fact took the initiative and called the OIC members to attend this very important summit, so that this particular issue could be taken care of.

And we all know the Western world isn’t supporting as such—the Americans, they have frozen their $9.5 billion U.S. dollars and that was much needed for the revival of their economy. And so the case is, from a lot of European countries as well, in fact, initially, they planned for help, but nothing has arrived so far.

As we will be running this transmission for the next three days, till Sunday, so this is the beginning in fact, and let us show you a report that our production team has prepared, and then I’ll introduce you to our panelists.

NARRATOR: A deepening humanitarian quandary of Afghanistan reflects the flawed approach of international community towards Afghanistan, with tragic consequences. The crumbling healthcare system, economic meltdown of aid-dependent economy, pandemic, food insecurity, access abated by drought, and harsh winter all combine to create a perfect storm for killing more Afghans than bullets. Raising further alarm, the UN envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons said an estimated 60% of Afghanistan’s 38 million people are facing crisis levels of hunger in a food emergency that will likely worsen over the winter.

DEBORAH LYONS: “Now is not the time to turn away from the Afghan people. We must find ways to prevent an imminent humanitarian catastrophe and the terrible loss of life, that could happen over the winter.”

NARRATOR: According to UNICEF around 3.2 million Afghan children are acutely malnourished and 1.4 million children are at risk of dying because of severe acute malnutrition, unless we intervene with treatment. Explaining the country’s worst humanitarian disaster, Abdallah Al Dardari, the resident representative of the UNDP in Afghanistan, some 23 million people are in desperate need of food. The $20 billion economy could shrink by $4 billion or more, and 97% of the 38 million population are at risk of sinking into poverty.

As an emphatic gesture, Pakistan has announced $28 million medical, food, and other humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, while also authorizing the transport of food aid from India through Pakistan to Afghanistan.

The ensuing catastrophe is preventable as releasing the frozen funds, the Afghan Central Bank’s $9 billion reserves, most of which are held in the U.S. would alleviate the current humanitarian crisis. UNICEF official Samantha Markle noted that “This is no time for political brinksmanship. People in Afghanistan are dying and they need our support. Humanitarian aid is the last expression of human solidarity.” [end video]

REHMAN: And now to talk about it, let me introduce you to our panelists. We have with us in our studio, on my right is Ma’am Naila Chuhan. She is a former ambassador, senior diplomat. Thank you so much for your time. And we also have Lt. Gen. Talat Masood (ret.), who is a senior analyst—thank you also for your time. And on Skype we have with us from Germany, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, the founder of Schiller Institute: Thank you so much, Helga Zepp for your time as well. A pleasure to have you on the show….

I still remember, when as a kid, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and there were a lot of people who migrated to Pakistan. And at the Eid time, I remember, during that time period, a lot of planes used to come from Saudi Arabia and they would bring in meat for these people. So these is what we have seen during those crises, but currently it’s worse right now, but nothing is being done.

But let’s see what Miss Helga Zepp has to share with us. Ma’am, looking at the current Afghan crisis and the summit that Pakistan is having in Islamabad, now your take: what sort of hope do you have about the Afghan people, that, yes, there is going to be some sort of help in terms of cash and kind, both.

HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, first of all, I think it’s extremely important what Pakistan is doing right now, by hosting this summit—by Pakistan taking the leadership in a situation where the West has morally completely failed. I mean, this is a moral bankruptcy declaration, because, this is not a crisis which was not foreseeable, because, one week after the withdrawal of the U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan was clear, that the country was in a complete shambles. And now, almost four months have passed since, and it is clear that more than 90% of the people are in danger of dying of hunger, of the cold in the freezing winter, and this has been known in the West for several months. But in the news, Afghanistan has completely disappeared from the Western media.

So I think this conference is a real chance to show who is the moral superior factor in the situation. And I’m so ashamed that the West is not capable of freeing—the money which is being withheld by the U.S. Treasury and the European banks, this money belongs to the Afghan people, and we are in a campaign with the Schiller Institute, both in the United States and in Western Europe to demand that these monies be unfrozen right away.

But I actually would like to mention something which is a little bit more hopeful element: I have called for an Operation Ibn Sina. Ibn Sina was probably the most famous doctor in the history of mankind, the most famous physician. He lived about one thousand years ago. And right now, to build a modern health system in Afghanistan, that would be the beginning of overcoming not only the humanitarian crisis, but also starting a real economic development and to give that the name of Ibn Sina, it would bring forward—and I would actually hope that OIC countries, being the Islamic countries of the would, that they would adopt Operation Ibn Sina. If they all would work together—Ibn Sina, the synonym for not only saving the Afghan people right now, in this incredible humanitarian crisis, but all working together to build up economically this country which has a very proud history. The whole region was once known as the Land of a Thousand Cities. Ibn Sina is not just a physician, but he was one of the great universal thinkers, who contributed a lot to philosophy and many areas of knowledge.

So, I think this is a moment where history can change in a positive way. I think the West has failed and now hopefully the Islamic countries, together with the neighboring countries of Afghanistan can step in. I mean, it’s unbelievable what is happening: that the world would know of such a humanitarian tragedy and not act, I think this is a point where people have to really think about what does that mean about the moral condition of the world? I think Operation Ibn Sina could be a tremendous change in the situation.

REHMAN: Now, a very interesting point, and let me take this debate to the lady in Germany: Mrs. Helga, now a couple of important points. One is when Mr. Hamid Karzai was gotten, nobody knew him. And he was there for two terms, because he was the blue-eyed boy of the Americans, certainly, when he made certain remarks, and he was pretty open. Then there was this, I would say, change, as far as the leadership was concerned, and two terms were given to Mr. Ashraf Ghani, who ended up running away, leaving the Afghan people. And interesting part is in every election, if was believed that they were rigged and they were so close that initially Abdullah Abdullah was made the Foreign Minister, and later on, again, since he was also running for President, he said, well, I’m the President; and he ended up becoming the CEO, and again then in the second term, he was again given another responsibility. Now the point is, if that is acceptable to the Americans, that Mr. John Kerry flies all the way from U.S.A., comes here, creates a new appointment, and settles down things—if that is acceptable, Ma’am, why is the Taliban regime not acceptable to the Americans? Is it because they’re ashamed of their loss in Afghanistan? Or perhaps, they never expected Taliban to take charge so quickly, within days, in fact?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, obviously, it is a shameful experience. I mean, the United States military is the strongest military on the planet, and combined with NATO, there is simply no other military force stronger—and to be defeated by essentially 65,000 Taliban fighters, is not exactly a heroic experience. I think some of the military who were involved are still licking their wounds, and they have a hard time to digest the fact that they really suffered an incredible defeat.

But that doesn’t take away the responsibility—I mean, in the history of military affairs, if you defeat an enemy, you have a certain responsibility for what happens. In the same way, even if you lose, the fact that the West, NATO and the United States, and the German Bundeswehr and many others, were for 20 years fighting in Afghanistan gives them a moral responsibility to deal with the people. And what is happening now, by sanctioning Afghanistan, by withholding the funds, they’re punishing the Afghan people! The Taliban in a certain sense, the argument that the Taliban are not respecting women’s rights, that may be true, but if you starve more than 90% of the population, you are doing much worse to the women. And the pictures of the dying children and dying babies, I would really like that these pictures should haunt the people who are withholding the help! There is no—this is bordering genocide! Because the effects are all known: Withholding the money right now, it’s the biggest crime I can imagine! So I think we have to really arouse the world public much more, because what you do, by doing this, you force the Taliban practically to go back to the drug production and the drug trade. The Taliban do not want to have drug production, it goes against their religious beliefs.

And in 2000, the UN [drug and crime] representative Pino Arlacchi was negotiating with the Taliban, and they gave up the drug production. The explosion of the drugs occurred after NATO came into the country, and now, by withholding the funds, you are forcing the Taliban to get money from somewhere. So this will have an incredible amount of deaths within Europe, in Russia, China, where the drugs will find their way to go.

It also means, if you say you have to have an opposition to the Taliban, well, you’re encouraging terrorism. I mean the refugee crisis. If this is not remedied very quickly, you will have millions of people trying to escape hunger and disease and the cold, and you will have a tremendous refugee crisis which will burden the neighboring countries. But these refugees who then try to get to Turkey or to Europe—there is just no explanation for what is happening right now which would have any rationale and justification.

I think hopefully this conference taking place in Islamabad right now, also would find an appeal to the rest of the world, to open their eyes. Because what’s at stake, these are the kinds of branching points, where you either go in the direction of becoming more human or becoming more barbarian. And right now, the West has clearly decided on the latter. And I think that has to be remedied.

REHMAN: According to our foreign minister, the Afghan interim foreign minister is also going to attend this conference, along with the Chinese delegation and the Russian, as well as the American. Now, since the American presence will be there, ma’am, do you think that the OIC members, if they agree—let’s suppose if they agree that countries like Saudi Arabia can provide fuel for a certain time, let’s say, for a year on deferred payments or something of that sort; a few countries, like Russia can provide wheat, because the wheat consumption is a lot in Afghanistan, so is the case with rice. Certain countries, Pakistan might, let’s suppose end up agreeing that the Indians can bring in food supplies via Pakistan to Afghanistan, there are these decisions—because this is also going to be some sort of a negotiation, that if India wants to help, we will let them help. But there has to be some sort of condition then; this is the way it should be. Because there is a lot trust deficit also.

Similarly, when we talk about this important point, that we’re not saying let’s accept the regime, but at least talk to them! Do you think this is the basic point from where we can start the negotiation?

Since our foreign minister was also throwing light on this very important aspect of humanitarian crisis, and he said, we will try our level best to sort this issue out, and he also said he had a meeting with the Secretary General of the OIC which was very productive.

Now, one quick comment: as far as the media is concerned, because you were saying there is no news about Afghanistan in the Western media, in Europe, is this story regarding this particular moot, where the OIC members are meeting in Islamabad, is that also a story in your television channels, or in the papers, or on the net?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: No. The coverage of Afghanistan has practically disappeared. There was a big upset in the immediate aftermath, after the troops went out, and for three or four weeks it was the issue, but in the three months, in Italy, in France, in Germany, you don’t find any coverage at all. I think if one follows the media from the region, a lot of very promising signs—for example, I thought the fact that India and Pakistan agreed to use the Pakistan route to transport food from India this was a very important step, and I know for India what happens in Afghanistan is also extremely important. So one could only wish that the regional cooperation is overcoming older geopolitical conflicts. Also naturally the meetings which took place in the Central Asian Republics involving Russia and China. But I think the question of the Extended Troika should also be pushed because I think the involvement of the United States in a constructive effort, that in my view is the breaking issue, because if the United States could be convinced to take a positive attitude it would be an extremely important stepping stone for an otherwise extremely dangerous geopolitical confrontation between the United States, and Russia and China.

So in a certain sense, to get all the forces internationally together to help Afghanistan is in my view one of the absolute, important historical missions. In a certain sense, I think the whole destiny of mankind is in a laser, concentrated on what happens in Afghanistan. So I would really hope that all the participating and affected countries would double and multiply their efforts to make saving Afghanistan an issue of the whole world, because right now it is now. And I think all channels must be used: media, United Nations, conferences: there must be a drumbeat, a drumbeat of awakening the conscience of the world, because I think this is sort of a judgment of our ability as a human species: Are we morally fit to survive or not?

So in one sense, I think the fate of Afghanistan and the fate of humanity are much more closely connected than most people can imagine.

REHMAN: Very well said, Ma’am. Very well said. And I hope, in fact, to close this segment of our transmission on this note. And Ma’am, when we talk about U.S. President Joe Biden, he thinks he is the champion of humanitarian crisis, he always talks about the issues all over the world, doesn’t speak much about Kashmir or Palestine, for that matter. Neither have we heard much from him regarding Afghanistan. I think this is the high time that all human beings are created equal, so I think this is something really important, and the Americans should take a lead, if they consider themselves as the globe leaders or the masters in that matter, they should definitely come up and come up with some sort of solution, proper remedy for this issue. Mrs. Zepp-LaRouche, thank you so much for your presence and it was a pleasure having you.

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Thank you….

REHMAN: Welcome back to our transmission. We are talking about this very important OIC moot that is being held in Islamabad, to make sure that the humanitarian issues should be taken care of, that are posing a significant threat to the public of Afghanistan. As we know, they have the social issue, the economic problems, the bank which is at the verge of collapse. The accounts have been frozen, $9.5 billion of the Afghan people’s funds that is being held in the United States of America and other Western countries, that has been frozen and not released. There is acute shortage of food, and it is believed that 60% of the total population is at the verge of an absolute catastrophe. 1.1 million children can die if there is no appropriate help available at the right time; plus about 3.2 children are at the verge of starvation.

So a lot of issues in Afghanistan, and Pakistan has taken the initiative to have this moot in Islamabad, so the issue of Afghanistan should be raised and the Western countries should come forward and help the Afghan people.

Now, in our second portion we are joined by Lt. Gen. Raza Muhammad Khan (ret.) who is a senior analyst…. and former Ambassador Naghmana Hashmi, senior diplomat and former ambassador—Ma’am, a pleasure to have you on the show. And from Stockholm, Sweden, we’ve been joined by Hussein Askary, who’s an expert on international relations. A pleasure to have you, Askary, sir….

Now, coming to you Hussein Askary: $2.2 trillion being spent—wisely or otherwise, that’s a separate question—20 years of war in Afghanistan. And at the end of the day, millions of people got displaced, hundreds of thousands of them got killed. Around 55, 60 countries invaded. Not even one is there to support them, now. So perhaps they were there to liberate, but they couldn’t liberate, so from liberalization to starvation: 20 years, $2.2 trillion: What sort of economic equation is this, sir? Let’s throw light on it.

NAGHMANA HASHMI: It’s more like $6 trillion.

HUSSEIN ASKARY: Also your guests have correctly pointed to some very important things [about the nature of the OIC meeting, including the UNSC P5 countries, and what should be planned]. But I think Pakistan’s efforts to alleviate the situation in Afghanistan are laudable. I read the letter written by Foreign Minister [Shah Mahmood] Qureshi, and he correctly pointed out that the danger is looming, and the urgency of nations, both in the Islamic world, but also internationally to move, quickly, to both release the funds of the Afghan people, these funds, the $9.5 billion have been frozen in the United States and European banks, these belong to the Afghani nation, they don’t belong to the Taliban.

And your Foreign Minister also correctly pointed to the fact that there are millions of people in Afghanistan are now thinking about taking their children and moving outside of Afghanistan, to Iran, Pakistan, wherever they could. And this would be an even greater humanitarian crisis. But the international institutions like the World Food Program and others, have pointed out that there are millions, 20 million at least, of these people are threatened by starvation, and therefore there should be a first step is to unfreeze the funds of the Afghan people, because that would be the quickest way to get food, medicine and other needs for the Afghan people—in addition, of course, to the humanitarian aid. But that’s primary.

Now, the thing is, what we have seen, as you have pointed out, the crisis in Afghanistan is not caused by Taliban takeover. It is caused by 20 years of failures of the trans-Atlantic world, with trillions of dollars spent, only on military operations, security operations. As your guests said, they failed to build the capacity in Afghanistan, to produce food, to have decent healthcare, to have the basics of life produced inside Afghanistan. So this is a massive failures, and now we have this cynical game, where as your foreign minister has clearly pointed out that if you now starve the Afghan people, which is a crime, actually, against humanity—this collective punishment—what you will create is a chaotic security situation which will breed terrorism, it will breed mass emigration—it will breed the same things you claim to what to prevent.

So, this is a clear failure, but we are now mobilizing, that every effort should be made to resolve the situation, to get people in the United States and in Europe back to their senses. The Schiller Institute is involved in an international campaign to push the U.S. congress, to push the European politicians and governments, and humanitarian organizations are also supporting this effort, to unfreeze the funds of Afghanistan people, and start to work with the de facto government in Afghanistan, in Kabul to start humanitarian aid.

Now, the one important thing which your guests also pointed out, is related to the OIC, the Islamic nations have been suppressed, but that is because we had an era of geopolitics which has just ended in Afghanistan. Even President Biden said, the withdrawal from Afghanistan marks the end of an era. Now whatever he means by that, what we mean by that, is there is a new paradigm in international relations: the age of geopolitics, where you can pit one nation against the other, to make geopolitical gains—not really any service to humanity, and in that geopolitical game of divide and conquer, Islamic nations, Muslim nations were pitted against each other, like in Libya, then Syria, in Yemen, and it’s continuing until today! So it is time that we move away from geopolitics, including all the Muslim nations: They should not be involved in this geopolitical game of divide and conquer—and unite the effort to push the new paradigm which is exemplified by the Belt and Road Initiative. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the best vehicle to stretch the New Silk Road, this new strategy for reconstruction and win-win cooperation, into Afghanistan, and all the neighbors of Afghanistan will benefit from this, the world will benefit from this.

So this is the end of an era, and Muslim nations have to unite their efforts, also with other non-Muslim nations, like for example, we have in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This will lead us, as your guests said, into both alleviating the immediate humanitarian crisis, but also pave the wave to a long-term solution based on economic cooperation, building of infrastructure, and building a health platform, which our institute, as the chairwoman of our institute has discussed on your television broadcast: We have Operation Ibn Sina to create, starting with Afghanistan and Yemen, a healthcare platform, which is based on building the necessary infrastructure—water, power, transport, education and so on—to bring modern healthcare to the people. That’s the only way nations in the East and the West can work together, so we can close the chapter, the bloody chapter of geopolitics, which has extended now for 40 years—not only the last 20 years—and cost millions of lives, caused massive misery, mass emigration, as you experienced yourself in Pakistan. So this is an opportunity as well as a crisis time. So we should seize the opportunity to unite the efforts both of the Muslim nations, but also the international community, to bring a more human solution to the situation.

REHMAN: One quick comment before I return to our guests in the studio. Earlier we had a guest from Germany, and she was mentioning the fact that there is no news about Afghanistan in the Western media. And since you live in Scandinavia, and perhaps countries like Norway and even Sweden, or Denmark for that matter, Finland, these are the countries, the champions of humanitarian crises, and the sufferings of the people, they’re always very vocal about it. What is the current scenario? Is this moot also being talked about in the Western media, in particular in Scandinavia?

ASKARY: No, your guest from Germany was obviously correct. Afghanistan has disappeared from the media coverage. The only things that are reported are people shedding crocodile tears over the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, but they’re ignorant of the fact that these actions, the sanctions against Afghanistan are killing women and girls and children in Afghanistan. We have a few humanitarian organizations that have actually made public calls for relaunching the humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, so we have many Nordic organizations that have been involved in Afghanistan for many years, and now they are making public calls. They get a limited coverage. But remember that now the governments and the elites here in Scandinavia, in Europe generally, and also in the United States they are united now to focus on what they call “stopping China and Russia.” Because those countries, most of them in NATO, they failed in Afghanistan. But they want to shift the attention from their failure and the misery they have created in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, and so on, to saying that the problems of the world are because you have two authoritarian regimes in Russia and China, and we have to stop them. And this is complete madness, because what we will get is a World War III: It will be fought not by regular armies, but by nuclear weapons. And this is a recipe for the extinction of the human race!

So those people in the media are supporting the war machine here, even in Scandinavia, to focus on how to fight and stop Russia and China.

Now, Pakistan gets part of the blame in the situation here in the media, because they say Pakistan is supporting the Taliban, and this is really evil propaganda—

REHMAN: —at the end of the day, the narratives are always set by the Western world. And these are those narratives.

ASKARY: Yes, but there is a reality on the ground. It is reality which will determine the outcome of things, not what people say in the media, not what these intelligence agencies are writing and sending to the media to tell the people. There is a reality: The world has changed. The power of the world, the economic power of the world has moved to the East. We have massive social and economic problems here in Europe. We have an electricity crisis, right here in Europe! We have a healthcare crisis, right here in Europe! So these realities will determine which way nations will go, not what people in the military-industrial complex and their media agents are saying.

REHMAN: Perfectly said, perfectly said….

Last comment from you, closing remarks, Askary, sir.

ASKARY: Thank you very much. It has been a very enriching discussion here, I think. On the question of India, it is ironical that it was on your television, or another program perhaps, I suggested a month before India decided to send wheat through Pakistan, that India and Pakistan should work together on economic cooperation. Forget about all the British geopolitics that have created the Kashmir problems and other problems: that there’s a way for India to come back to its geo-economic and cultural environment. India is not an Atlantic country. There is an identity crisis in India. They want to have one foot in Asia, but the other foot in the Atlantic, and that is creating big problems for India.

There is a reality which India cannot surpass, which is a geographical, cultural, historical situation, and this is a very good case of that geo-economics, is superior geopolitics. And it was a welcome thing when I saw that your Prime Minister Imran Khan even accepted to allow the Indian wheat to go to Afghanistan, as I had suggested a month earlier. But then, due to these, sometimes quite silly geopolitical and other games this did not go through. But this is a very good a case where Pakistan’s position in the region should be reinforced by not by these games—

REHMAN: —absolutely. Very important point, especially this particular action of Pakistan is also opening up so many avenues for both these countries to at least start talking, start negotiating.

ASKARY: And India has everything to gain from working with Pakistan—

REHMAN: All right, thank you so much, Askary, for your discussion. That’s all we have for this hour.


Helga Zepp-LaRouche and Hussein Askary Appear on PakistanTV

Dec. 17 (EIRNS)—Helga Zepp-LaRouche and Hussein Askary appeared on Pakistani PTV World today, commenting live on the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) dedicated to Afghanistan. {A transcript of Mrs. Zepp-LaRouche and Askary’s remarks will be posted soon.}

In her intervention, Zepp-LaRouche praised Pakistan for hosting the OIC conference on Afghanistan, given the failure of the West to take responsibility for the enormous risk to life of millions of people in Afghanistan. The withholding of Afghanistan’s funds by Western banks is shameful. She promoted Operation Ibn Sina as a path forward in creating a health and development path forward for Afghanistan, and hoped that the OIC would incorporate it into its proposals.

The American-NATO defeat by the Taliban was a humiliating experience, but this does not end the responsibility to the well-being of the people of Afghanistan. The given reason for withholding funding is the Taliban’s mistreatment of women and children, but creating the conditions for mass starvation is essentially genocide, and this is what the economic blockade does. Withholding funds may also cause Afghanistan to turn to drug production, which the Taliban opposes. She appealed to the entire world to choose the side of humanity over barbarism.

Responding to another question about the discussion of Afghanistan and the OIC meeting in the West, Zepp-LaRouche emphasized the potential of the human impulse to do good could overcome geopolitics. As an example, she cited the coordination between India and Pakistan of Indian supplies going to Afghanistan via Pakistan. Another example is the collaboration of the Central Asian Republics with Russia and China. If the United States could be induced to make a positive contribution, this would be of absolute world historical importance in shifting the world paradigm: “I think the whole destiny of mankind is concentrated like a laser in what happens in Afghanistan.” It must become an issue of the whole world. Is humanity fit to survive? “In one sense, I think the fate of Afghanistan and the fate of humanity are more closely connected than most people can imagine.”

Askary praised Pakistan’s efforts to support the people of Afghanistan, both to release the billions of dollars held by American and European financial institutions and to end sanctions. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Qureshi has made commendable efforts to these ends. The release of funds is essential, but more is required. The crisis in Afghanistan was not caused by the Taliban, but by twenty years of failures of Western military action. The current situation in Afghanistan will cause the rise of terrorism and of immigration, outcomes that Western nations supposedly oppose. The geopolitical game must be ended, replaced by the new paradigm exemplified by the Belt and Road Initiative. The immediate crisis must be addressed, but the way must be paved to the long-term solution provided by infrastructure, including health infrastructure. The Schiller Institute’s Operation Ibn Sina is a proposal that allows for international cooperation across the geopolitical divide to provide for the common well-being of the people of the world. This is the opportunity presented by the current crisis, an opportunity that must be fought for.

Askary explained that Afghanistan had fallen off the media in Scandinavia as well. Although there are many Nordic organizations pushing for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, this receives scant coverage. But with the push among institutions to oppose China and Russia, there is little room to support useful efforts.

He emphasized that Muslim nations have been pitted against each other by British geopolitics, as happened in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. But, the age of geopolitics has ended with the failure in Afghanistan and a new paradigm beckons, based on economic cooperation. Muslim nations should join this new paradigm. He also spoke to the importance of India taking its rightful position as an Asian nation rather than an Atlanticist one, working with Pakistan and other neighbors of Afghanistan like China.

He closed by stressing that although narratives may appear to have a certain power, it is reality that ultimately has the upper hand. {The link to watch it is here.}


Helga Zepp-LaRouche at CGTN event: “Party building and the new generation”

The dialogue appeared live on Youtube, the CGTN website and different social media accounts. See here:

CGTN on Facebook
CGTN on Twitter
CGTN’s Webseite CGTN on Weibo

Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche added a profound call for sanity in an interview on China’s CGTN TV today. Asked to make suggestions for today’s youth in a moment of great peril, she responded that the fundamental issue is the image of mankind, with two opposite views being contested. The one is that of the Malthusian and oligarchical view, that man is a parasite, polluting Mother Nature, and the fewer people the better, a view most evident in those promoting the climate scare. The other view is that which perceives that every person is sacred, blessed with the power of reason, capable of making discoveries of new principles of nature which can be applied to enhanced production and higher standards of living for all. She said that it is time for all of humanity to unite behind this elevated view, to form a common party of mankind which unites citizens of all countries in a common mission, without contradicting the interests of the diverse and beautiful cultures of the world. To start this process, she said, mankind must unite behind the urgent need to end the pandemic, and all future pandemics, by building modern health facilities in every country. This would create a potential branching point for the human race, building the basic infrastructure required for the health of all people, and ending once and for all the idea that poverty is an unavoidable part of civilization which can not be eliminated. In 100 years, she added, when we have become a space faring species, national boundaries will be less important.


Zepp-LaRouche on CGTN Dialogue Program – “Democracy Summit” Examined

Dec. 5 (EIRNS)—On Sunday, Dec. 5, Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche joined a special hour-long episode of the CGTN program “Dialogue: Ideas Matter,” with host Xu Qinduo to discuss the concept of “democracy.” This is part of an assertive and confident push by China to challenge the absurd “Democracy Summit” hosted at the end of the week by the United States.

Xu put the first question to Helga Zepp-LaRouche: what does democracy mean? Zepp-LaRouche pointed out that democracy wasn’t necessarily considered a good thing by Plato, to whom it was the other side of the coin of tyranny. Beyond the use of the term, it is essential to look at what governments do. Open-minded people considering China’s approach to democracy will recognize that it has advantages not present among the “Western” democracies.

Martin Sieff, with the Global Policy Institute spoke next, emphasizing that there does not exist a single form of democracy in the world. Social democracies, Japan, India, the United States—these are different types of democracies.

Politburo member Huang Kunming appeared next, in the form of a clip from a recent speech. He reminded his audience that the Communist Party of China arose in the pursuit of democracy to replace the old feudal order, and it continues to lead the fight for Chinese democracy. This phrase itself means that people are the rulers, and the purpose of government. And there is no one-size-fits-all approach to democracy. Indeed, having such a view is itself undemocratic. Allow the people of each nation to decide.

The next guest, Dr. Wang Huiyao, a member of the China State Council, discussed what is meant by “whole process people’s democracy.” There is a consultative democracy, whereby suggestions and criticisms from across the country are considered. The selection and election process itself is designed to ensure that the people best able to serve the people take office. The powerful development and social development of China vindicates its approach.

Michele Geraci, of Italy, agreed that the point of government is to achieve results, to provide for the people (unlike a feudal system). He contrasted process-democracy with results-oriented democracy. Which system delivers better results for the people; results that people will be happy with?

Following a clip in which the head of China Media Group asked whether the people of Afghanistan benefitted from American democracy, and whether George Floyd benefitted from democracy, Zepp-LaRouche was asked whether the police reflect the will of the people. She pointed out that the militarization of the police over decades has created problems, and that the people of the United States are extremely polarized. Biden said he’d unify the country. But the only way to bring about a unity is to collaborate on a worthwhile mission, as did the Founders, Lincoln, FDR, and JFK. Afghanistan represents the enormous failure of attempting to impose a model on another country. And the theft and withdrawal of financial and other resources from that nation is a terrible crime.

The Syrian Ambassador to the P.R.C., Imad Moustapha, spoke up to say that the United States is in no position to be the cardinal arbiter of what democracy is, or to declare whether another nation’s system is democratic. The United States is truly a single party state, ruled by the rich, which cynically uses the terms “democracy” and “freedom” to justify its policies.

Must the concept of “democracy” itself be updated to be more relevant to the modern, connected world, asked the host. Michele Geraci compared the cartelized control of social media to the feudal order in which individual rulers could make decisions, rather than a government that is answerable to the general welfare.

Sergey Shakhray, former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, spoke in the form of a video clip, to say that by creating a division line between democracies and autocracies ignores the actual outcomes provided by China and many Western nations. Former Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama also spoke to the need to look for commonalities with other nations, rather than focusing on differences.

Zepp-LaRouche responded that it was absolutely necessary to seek out shared interests. A dialogue of cultures can best proceed by seeking out the best aspects of other countries and cultures. She took on the descent into broadly expressed anti-Americanism that had entered the discussion to point to the powerful historical successes of European culture. The Italian Renaissance was based on the idea of man as a limitlessly perfectible being. The problem in the West is not that we did not have a great tradition, but that we moved away from it to a liberal outlook in which everything is allowed, creating a decadence of culture. “To focus on the common aims of mankind, we must appeal to the best traditions of each culture.” Zepp-LaRouche called for joining together to achieve modern health care in every nation, with a particular focus on Operation Ibn Sina to begin with Afghanistan, which is in such great need, along with such countries as Haiti, Yemen and Syria. Building health infrastructure goes hand in hand with overall development, both requiring and enabling it.

The common aims of mankind should be more clearly defined, and present conditions provide the opportunity for a breakthrough. Contrast the inflation of the trans-Atlantic with the physical economic growth typified by the Belt and Road Initiative. {The full Dialogue can be accessed here.}

The broadcast reflected China’s confident efforts to undermine the “Democracy Summit” and the need for a greater understanding in China of the history of and fights within extended European civilization, including, emphatically, the United States.


Sicily Daily Runs Call by Committee for Coincidence of Opposites on Afghanistan Emergency

Under the headline “Afghanistan, the Committee for the Republic: Let Us Help It,” the daily Il Corriere di Sicilia published the Dec. 10 call by the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites with an endorsement by Alessia Ruggeri.

The paper quotes Ruggeri saying: “I join the declaration by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, president of the Schiller Institute, which has highlighted that for more than two months no one has talked about Afghanistan, totally ignoring the emergency and the fact that, with the confiscation of funds, the population is likely to die of hunger and hardship,” and it continues: “These are the words of Alessia Ruggeri, spokesperson of the political movement ‘Committee for the Republic’ member of the Committee for the Coincidence of the Opposites that supports the call by David Beasley, director of the WFP, which states that immediate support from the West is needed, defining it as a moral test for the West.” See the Italian original.


Project Ibn Sina: Restore Afghanistan’s Ancient Greatness

 Nov. 21 (EIRNS)–This is the edited transcript of the speech delivered by Mrs. LaRouche, the founder of the international Schiller Institutes, on November 17 to the online conference, “Humanitarian Roundtable for Afghanistan,” sponsored by the Council on Global Relations (CGR) located in Metro Washington D.C. The conference was convened by the CGR to address “the need for urgent assistance and a shift in narrative,” and to “make a difference in the lives of 39 million Afghan people facing a collapsed economy in the heart of a brutal winter coming out of 40 years of war.”

Hello to all of you.
I just want to state emphatically that the money that is being withheld by the U.S. Treasury—but also Commerzbank, Bundesbank, and the Bank for International Settlements—this money belongs to the Afghan people. I think that this is what we have to face, given the situation that was pointed out by both Dr. Beasley [of the UN World Food Program] and Dr. Tedros from the World Health Organization, that 97% of the people are in danger of being food insecure. And food insecure is just another word for starving to death.

Then you have a health crisis—95% of the people have no access to healthcare. And that is happening in a condition of famine and of the COVID crisis. So, to withhold that money for any more days means you’re risking the lives of people. So, I think the first step must be an absolute demand that the money which rightfully belongs to the Afghan people must be released without condition. I think this idea of giving it piecemeal and making conditions and so forth, that just will contribute to chaos. It will force the Taliban to resort to opium production, which they do not want to do. I think I mentioned in a previous discussion that Pino Arlacchi, the UN special representative in the fight against drugs in 2000, had an agreement with the Taliban, in which they agreed to stop all opium production.

The increase of the opium production occurred during the NATO presence—especially this year, opium production went up by nine percent in the period before the Taliban took over. Then the price shot up to the sky, because there was an expectation that Taliban would not continue the opium production. The price went up because of potential scarcity. So, the people who are withholding the money from the Taliban are pushing the opium trade! That should be stated very, very clearly.

Secondly, if you’re now not supporting a government that you may not like politically—but it’s there—and if you don’t support them being successful, you are encouraging the opposition. And what is the opposition? It has been largely terrorist groups, and you know that terrorism will spread, not only in Afghanistan but throughout the region. The big question is that maybe that is the intention, as a geopolitical force against the countries in the region, especially Russia and China.

So, the people who are withholding the money—and I want to be very, very clear, because there is no point in talking about nice things if that is not settled first—the people who are withholding the money are doing it completely illegally. And I think they should be held accountable. Any death which occurs from here on will be the guilt of the people withholding the money. And I think that has to be stated first.

I think if we can agree on that, then I’m willing to talk about a better vision. Psychologically, I can understand that it is very difficult for the NATO countries and their armies, after having lost a war having been in the country for 20 years. I talked to some people who were there, and I understand that this is a trauma. They did not expect it, and they are having a very hard time switching to another mental attitude. But that has to occur if Afghanistan is to be saved.

I have thought a lot about what can be done to give hope to a country that has gone through hell for the last 40 years. And really through hell for the last several 100 years—going back to the Great Game, to Brzezinski and his Islamic card that started this whole present disaster. People in Afghanistan have lived through trauma, and they need something to put the country back together with a beautiful vision. This region of the world was once known as the land of the 1,000 cities. Admittedly, this was on the order of 3,000 years ago, but there was once a period in which this region was one of the cradles of mankind. I think to be grounded in one’s own great tradition is a very important stepping-stone for building a positive future.

Then, naturally, there are many poets one could mention. The fact is that there is a health crisis right now of biblical dimensions, a pandemic which is unprecedented in terms of the potential of where it may go. So, my idea is: It has to start with the modern health system. Afghanistan needs modern hospitals. They can be built in two weeks. The Chinese proved in Wuhan that you can build a modern hospital of 1,000 beds in two weeks. Then you need doctors, modern, educated doctors, nurses, health workers. A lot of the diaspora Afghanis are doctors. They are in the United States, they are in Europe. They can be mobilized to come back and help to build a modern health system. And that modern health system can be the beginning of an economic transformation. If you are going to have a modern health system, you need water, you need electricity, you need other infrastructure. But that building of a modern health system can become the engine of hope and the engine of economic reconstruction. This, however, needs to have a beautiful vision, an idea of what that means.

Many years ago, I studied the works of Avicenna, or Ibn Sina as he is called in the Arab world. He was one of the great universal thinkers. He lived from 980 A.D. to 1038 A.D. He was not only an extraordinary thinker; he developed philosophical conceptions which had influence way beyond the Arab world, and to the Mediterranean, and to European thinkers. But especially it is known that he was an extraordinary physician. He wrote several medical books, and a canon on medicine which was the standard work in Europe until the 17th Century, and in some cases even the 19th Century. He developed an idea of the anatomy of the body, the nerve system, the psychology. He knew about new diseases like breast cancer. He developed the connection between muscles and nerves. He wrote a whole book about modern medicines based on herbs and other such things. But he is famously known to have been one of the great sons of Afghanistan.

He was probably born in Bactria. There are also some people who say, no, he was born in Bukhara, or maybe in Persia. It does not matter. His father was for sure born in Bactria, and he is for sure a son of the region.

He is an example of how somebody coming from Afghanistan can be a contributor to universal history, by moving mankind forward, by developing a whole new, modern medical science. So, I’m suggesting that the effort to save Afghanistan be called Operation Ibn Sina, because it somehow captures both the proud tradition and also a vision that Afghanistan again can be a pearl of the nations of the world. Afghanistan will be contributing something to other nations. You need to give people who have gone through such hell a vision of a beautiful future.

I think that would capture the imagination of a lot of the people, both inside Afghanistan and out. The danger is terrorism and drugs, and you want to have an image which presents a completely different future, one based on the intellectual tradition which made this country a great country in the past, and it means that it will again be a great country in the future.

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