(This was originally posted in Hindustan Times by Amit Chaturvedi)
Since its takeover by the Taliban, Afghanistan has been facing cash crunch, with global aids freezing and daily limits set on withdrawal from bank accounts. Now, a report in New York Post has claimed that most of the Taliban fighters have not received money in months. Most of the countries have refused to recognise the Taliban regime, which officially calls the country Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. And so, cash is barely trickling in.
After the Taliban takeover, foreign assistance was frozen and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank halted loans. The United States also stopped $9.4 billion in reserves to the country’s central bank. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) also asked its 39 member nations to block Taliban assets. In such a scenario, Afghanistan’s econpmy has been crumbling and prices soaring. The United Nations cautioned this week that 97 per cent of Afghanistan’s population could soon go below the poverty line – a worrying level from the pre-Taliban takeover figure of 72 per cent.
The New York Post reports that a significant number of Taliban fighters outside major cities are surviving on very little food and sleep in trucks or whatever suitable shelter they can find. The publication also claimed that local community members give food and other supplies to Taliban members. The Taliban have already imposed a $200 withdrawal limit on citizens who travel for miles to visit a city and then wait for hours in queues to get cash. Many banks have been closed since the Taliban takeover, and those that are open have limited cash withdrawals.
Meanwhile, the UN said on Tuesday that four million Afghans are facing “a food emergency” and the majority live in rural areas where $36 million is urgently needed for the coming months to ensure the planting of winter wheat, feed for livestock, and cash assistance for vulnerable families, the elderly and disabled. Rein Paulsen, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Office of Emergencies and Resilience, told reporters that this emergency is characterised by “extreme gaps in food consumption, very high levels of acute malnutrition and excess mortality”.
At a UN meeting in Geneva on Monday, the international community pledged to provide over $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. Taliban government’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi thanked the global community for the help and said they want good bilateral relations with the world’s countries, including the United States.