As the people of Afghanistan face increasing impoverishment and hardship exacerbated by a U.S.-led block on billions of dollars in Afghan assets, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Kabul Tuesday to demand that foreign governments and financial institutions release the frozen funds.\r\n\r\n\u0022Such economic pressures on Afghanistan are against international principles. Our people are struggling with economic problems here.\u0022\r\n\r\nCarrying banners reading, \u0022Let us eat\u0022 and \u0022Give us our money,\u0022 protesters decried financial restrictions imposed upon Afghanistan by nations—including the freezing of over $9 billion in Afghan assets by mostly American banks—following the Taliban\u0026#039;s reconquest of the country after two decades of U.S.-led war and occupation.\r\n\r\n\u0022Such economic pressures on Afghanistan are against international principles. Our people are struggling with economic problems here,\u0022 one protester told TOLO News.\r\n\r\nAnother demonstrator told the Afghan outlet that \u0022Afghanistan\u0026#039;s frozen money should be freed soon... This is not how to promote others\u0026#039; welfare.\u0022\r\n\r\nYet another participant asserted that \u0022this money belongs to the people and should be freed.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAccording to the Associated Press:\r\n\r\n\r\nThe lack of funding has battered Afghanistan\u0026#039;s already troubled economy, leading to increasing poverty while aid groups warn of a looming humanitarian catastrophe. State employees, from doctors to teachers and administrative civil servants, haven\u0026#039;t been paid in months. Banks, meanwhile, have restricted how much money account holders can withdraw.\r\n\r\nNo country has yet officially recognized the country\u0026#039;s new Taliban rulers due to the armed group\u0026#039;s previous track record. The Taliban\u0026#039;s previous regime 20 years ago banned women and girls from education and public life, mandated beards for men and attendance at prayers, banned sports and entertainment, and carried out public executions.\r\n\r\n\r\nUnlike other recent protests in Afghanistan—including a women\u0026#039;s rights demonstration last week at which foreign journalists were reportedly attacked—the Taliban promoted, praised, and provided security for the event, according to Hesamuddin Hesam, an Afghan journalist who is a correspondent for Germany\u0026#039;s Deutsche Presse-Agentur.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTuesday\u0026#039;s protest occurred a day after 46 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives warned President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that the asset freeze and economic sanctions placed Afghanistan at risk of \u0022humanitarian collapse.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022We fear, as aid groups do, that maintaining this policy could cause more civilian deaths in the coming year than were lost in 20 years of war,\u0022 the lawmakers wrote in a letter.\r\n\r\nOn Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury Department took a series of steps to enable the flow of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, issuing three general licenses allowing financial transactions involving the Taliban and the Afghan militant group Haqqani Network if the money is used to meet certain basic societal needs.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nKay Guinane, founder and senior adviser at the U.S.-based Charity \u0026amp; Security Network, said in a statement that the licenses \u0022represent important progress in protecting the lifesaving work of civil society groups in Afghanistan.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Ultimately, no amount of licensing can resolve this crisis,\u0022 Guinane added. \u0022Wherever sanctions exist, banks have been hesitant to provide financial services to nonprofits, even when those transactions are perfectly legal. Taking more proactive steps to reassure banks is one step Treasury can take to address this issue.\u0022\r\n\r\nAt a special meeting of the 54-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad, Pakistan last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said the U.S. \u0022must de-link the Taliban government from 40 million Afghan citizens, even if they [have] been in conflict with Taliban for 20 years.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nPakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told conference attendees—who also included representatives of the Taliban, United States, China, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations—that the world \u0022cannot ignore the danger of complete economic meltdown\u0022 in Afghanistan.