Afghans selling everything they own to buy food as economy under Taliban rule worsens


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Afghan Mohammad Akbar Ishqzadeh said, ‘From the day the government fell, everything got worse’

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In recent times, Mohammad Akbar Ishaqzadeh was standing on the banks of a river in Kabul, selling almost all of his family’s property.

Mr. Ishaqzadeh lost his job months ago when the US logistics company where he worked as a security guard closed down.


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The heavy burden on his family became unbearable after the Taliban Afghan republic overthrown on 15 August. It pushed the country to the brink of an economic downturn as the US and other Western nations pooled more than $9 billion in assets from the Afghan central bank and suspended most aid.

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In a last-ditch effort to secure cash to feed his wife and six children, Mr. Ishaqzade snatches everything from his Kabul except a few blankets to sleep on. Then, he drove a motorcycle rickshaw full of family possessions—from pillows and fans to curtains and plates—to this immediate market.

He said he expected to get the equivalent of $360 for the lot, which could pay six months’ rent. An hour before sunset, their highest offer was $85.

“From the day the government fell, everything got messed up,” said Mr. Ishaqzade, pointing to the luggage on his rickshaw. “I have to sell it just to buy food.”

While many Afghans eagerly watch how strictly the Islamic movement will rule the country, Taliban opponents and supporters alike agree that the biggest challenge at the moment is a serious economic crisis Which threatens to wipe out the remaining 20 years of US-funded nation-building.

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Pose how to deal with this crisis A serious dilemma for the international community. Afghanistan’s refusal to give up assets and withhold direct aid could push millions into severe poverty, potentially triggering an exodus of refugees to Europe.

permission to flow some of these funds Afghanistan, while easing the economic pain of ordinary Afghans, could strengthen the Taliban regime, many of whose leaders are under international sanctions because of their alleged links to terrorism.

NS United Nations Earlier this month $1 billion was raised as a pledge for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, well above its initial target of $600 million. However, much of that aid is to be provided by non-governmental organizations and UN agencies, bypassing the Taliban administration. That money is only a fraction of Afghanistan’s own reserves, much of which has been frozen by the US and the International Monetary Fund.

Shah Mahrabi said, “If the international community wants to prevent an economic collapse, they need to allow the central bank to limit and monitor their reserves. These are reserves that belong to the Afghan people, it is not aid.” Appointment of Ashraf Ghani, senior board member and former president of Afghanistan’s central bank.

He said that if the money was not released, Afghanistan could soon run out of medicine and many food items, and fuel would have to be rationed.

“You want to strangle the country, why?” Mr. Maharabi said. “Twenty years of investment will be over because we don’t like governance?”

Other prominent Afghan economists disagree. Former finance minister Khalid Payenda, who resigned days before the fall of Kabul and left the country, said the only money Western countries should send to Afghanistan is humanitarian aid to bypass the Taliban. He said the West must freeze the funds to force the Taliban to comply with international human rights standards in dealing with the Afghan population.

“That is the only benefit of the international community. People will suffer but I hope the Taliban realize that people can rise up,” Mr. Payenda said.

Soon after the Taliban takeover, the prices of fundamentals soared. Banks were closed for weeks and once they reopened, the Taliban strictly limited withdrawals to protect the country’s dwindling cash reserves. US dollar shipments, which happened several times a month, have stopped. Thousands of young professionals and other educated Afghans fled the country in a chaotic US-led evacuation from Kabul airport last month.

Government employees have not been paid for months, and some of them have returned to their jobs. Former policemen and other security officials, in particular, distrust Taliban apology promises and many of them remain hidden.

Some, however, are earning a living by making harsh choices. At a busy crossroads in Kabul, Pacer Lai, a former police officer, was busy selling white flags of his former enemy, the Taliban. “There was no other good job,” said Mr. Lai, who earned the equivalent of $3 to $4 a day selling flags, compared to $150 a month at his former job. “I have to sell flags to earn money to eat,” he said.

In a shack on the slopes of Kabul’s TV Hill, named after antennas clinging to the mountain like spikes, Baz Mohamed, a former special forces officer with Afghanistan’s defunct National Intelligence Service, said he was no longer his old man. Counts on Bhai to feed him and his family.

“In the past, we used to eat apples and meat. Now we only eat potatoes, dry bread and tea,” said Mr. Mohammad, as a truck carrying water to the neighborhood rumbles past.

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The Taliban have not yet formulated a policy to revive the economy, but they are stressing the need to resume aid to the international community and provide diplomatic recognition to their government. So far, no country has officially recognized the Taliban-reinstated Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as the country’s legitimate government.

Anas Haqqani, a prominent Taliban official whose brother Sirajuddin, designated by the US as a global terrorist, heads the Islamic Emirate’s interior ministry, in a meeting with foreign journalists called for a joint effort to bolster Afghanistan’s economy. Criticized the nation and US sanctions and encouraged the US and other Western countries. To reopen its embassies in Kabul.

One part of Afghanistan’s economy that resumed its activities after the Taliban takeover is the Sarai Shahzada currency exchange market in central Kabul. On the upper floor of the outer market, elderly men with red beards of henna color crushed Pakistani rupees with their feet. Little men carry leather suitcases full of crunchy dollar bills. Customers race between exchangers to find the best rates.

In many of their operations, Afghan currency exchangers deposit funds for safekeeping and provide bills of credit to merchants to transfer money domestically and internationally through a centuries-old informal system known as hawala. . With their strict regulations, unlike formal bank transfers and services like Western Union, Hawala provides a working way of transferring money in and out of the country.

“We can deal with the world without being part of the global financial system,” said Haji Dad Gul, deputy head of Sarai Shahzada. But even nimble currency exchangers can’t do much about the cash crunch within the country.

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The former government funneled between $80 million to $90 million into the Sarai Crowne every week to stabilize the national currency, the Afghani. Now, the Taliban does not release any funds. There is no press in Afghanistan to print money, and a cash crunch could lead to a complete economic collapse, Mr Gul said.

“You lived here for 20 years and spent two trillion dollars. You claimed to have helped the Afghan people,” Mr. Gul said, referring to the estimated total cost of the US war in Afghanistan. “Don’t destroy everything like that,” he said.

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