Pashtana Durrani, the founder of an organization working to make education available to women and girls across Afghanistan as the country remains under Taliban rule, said the Islamic fundamentalist group has poor financial literacy, especially when it comes to crypto.
In a Wednesday interview with political commentator Tommy Vietor from Pod Save the World, LEARN Afghanistan founder Pashtana Durrani said the international community — particularly the United States — should consider removing the sanctions imposed on Afghanistan and unfreezing funds controlled by foreign governments. According to Durrani, limiting foreign aid to Afghanistan through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other entities gives the Taliban an advantage, as opposed to using the latest technology, including cryptocurrency.
“When I say unfreeze the assets, send it in cryptocurrency — the Taliban will never understand it,” said Durrani. “Send it to a private bank — they will never be able to access it […] Taliban don’t have bank accounts. Taliban were people who were fighting in rural and very mountainous regions. They had no time to go to a bank, fill out the forms and have that.”
Following the almost immediate takeover by the Taliban in August, Afghanistan has faced a number of crises. In addition to the threat imposed by having armed religious extremists in control of the government, millions of Afghans are facing food insecurity and economic hardship. Many residents are still unable to withdraw cash from banks as the international community attempts to impose restrictions aimed at hurting the Taliban.
“The sanction is only hurting the people who had savings in the bank accounts. It’s hurting the teachers, it’s hurting the students, it’s hurting all those people who actually worked in the past two decades — it’s never going to hurt Taliban.”
Many nonprofit organizations helping Afghan refugees relocate to foreign countries have asked for crypto donations using Bitcoin (BTC) and other tokens, but Durrani has called on using digital assets as a force for good in the face of what she considers to be ineffective sanctions. In the digital age, good samaritans have sometimes completely bypassed official sanctions imposed by the U.S. to donate directly to people impacted by war, famine, or other disasters in countries like Iran and Yemen.
Related: Crypto can alleviate the financial fallout for people in Afghanistan
“Afghanistan can be put into those great lists of [the Financial Action Task Force] and all that,” said Durrani. “It could be one of those countries where you just start using cryptocurrency — legitimize it, whatever — but at the end of the day you’re hurting the wrong kind of people to punish the people who are in power.”