Who will fund the new Taliban government?

The squeeze of western donations would make it difficult for the Taliban government to pay salaries to its employees, continue welfare schemes that were started by the previous government, and contain high inflation

Venkata Krishna Rao. K Sep 08, 2021
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New Taliban government

All our fears have come true. As we had guessed, the Taliban have captured Afghanistan. The hardline Islamist militia captured most of the areas without firing a single bullet. The bulk of the world’s democratic countries had been supporting erstwhile President Ashraf Ghani’s government against the Taliban. But with the Taliban controlling Afghanistan, it is a big failure for the USA and its allies.

For India, It's a tough time and we need to see how New Delhi responds to the present situation and what will be the Indian policy. For now, New Delhi has only concentrated on the evacuation of Indians from Afghanistan. China, Pakistan and Russia have been supporting the Taliban for a long time.

As Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, ISI was instrumental in the creation of the Afghan Taliban. So now Pakistan is happy with recent developments. It is a big failure for US president Joe Biden’s government, and the country’s intelligence agencies and indicates America’s decline as a superpower. Many people thought that the collapse of the Ghani government would come about maybe within one to two years after the US forces’ withdrawal. But no one expected the Afghan army to collapse in a few days. It shows the big failure of the USA intelligence and Afghan army.

As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Empires of terror may dominate for some time but not forever”. If the Taliban really want to rule Afghanistan for long, and If they seek recognition from the international community, they should run the country peacefully without violence, ensuring the right to equality, giving freedom to women, implementation of fundamental rights and refine the Sharia laws according to the modern standards. Until and unless the Taliban rule the Afghans peacefully and democratically, they won’t get the traction they badly need internationally to get aid and finance.

Though the Taliban assured the US in the Doha deal inked last year that they won’t allow foreign terrorist groups including the Al Qaeda and ISIS to operate from Afghan soil, still countering those terrorist groups may not be easy for them.

Uncertainty among Afghans

From 2001, when the US and its allies ousted the Taliban from power, the Afghan government has provided millions of jobs to the locals, including around 220,000 government school teachers, and approximately 450,000 government employees in various departments.

Twenty percent of the jobs have gone to women. In addition, nearly 300,000 military personnel have been employed. Now all of them and their dependents are staring at an uncertain future, hoping against hope that the new government would make a positive beginning.

Without foreign donations, the Afghan government cannot sustain the smooth functioning of government schools and provide health services to its citizens. Foreign donations make up 75 percent of the Afghan budget. After the Taliban captured power, the US immediately stopped cash shipments and froze USD 9.5 billion Afghan assets, while the International Monetary Fund (IMF) halted Afghanistan’s access to USD 450 million worth of the lending agency’s funds.

The squeeze of western donations would make it difficult for the Taliban government to pay salaries to its employees, continue welfare schemes that were started by the previous government, and contain high inflation.

New donors

Now the biggest question is who will be new donors? A Taliban spokesperson has said China would be the main financier. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates or Russia could also pitch in. But it is another matter as to whether the Taliban can properly govern Afghanistan.

From a Chinese perspective, it's a good development for Beijing to counter the US in South Asia. Now China's aim is to protect its western Xinjiang province from the anti-Beijing East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

(The writer is a research scholar, IIT Varanasi, and alumnus, IIT Madras. The views expressed are personal. He can  be contacted at kvkraoiitm@gmail.com)

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