Photo used for illustrative purpose.
The annual report ranked Afghanistan as last among 149 countries surveyed, with a happiness rate of just 2.5. Lebanon was the world’s second saddest country, with Botswana, Rwanda and Zimbabwe rounding out the bottom five. Finland ranked first for the fourth year running with a 7.8 score, followed by Denmark and Switzerland, with Iceland and the Netherlands also in the top five.
Researchers ranked the countries after analysing data over three years. They looked at several categories including gross domestic product per capita, social safety nets, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity of the population, and perceptions of internal and external corruption levels.
Afghanistan stacked up poorly in all six categories, a confounding result coming as it does before the Taliban's arrival and despite 20 years of US and international investment. The US alone spent $145 billion on development in Afghanistan since 2002, according to reports by the US special inspector general for Afghanistan. Still, there were signs of increasing hopelessness.
Gallup did a polling in 2018 and found few Afghans they surveyed had much hope for the future. In fact the majority said they had no hope for the future.
Years of runaway corruption, increased poverty, lack of jobs, a steady increase in people forced below the poverty line, and erratic development all combined into a crushing malaise, said analyst Nasratullah Haqpal. Most Afghans had high hopes after 2001, when the Taliban were ousted and the US-led coalition declared victory,
"Unfortunately the only focus was on the war, the warlords and the corrupt politicians,” said Haqpal.
"People just became poorer and poorer and more disappointed and more unhappy... that is why these 20 years of investment in Afghanistan collapsed in just 11 days," he said referring to the Taliban's lightning blitz through the country before sweeping into Kabul in mid August.
When Masoud Ahmadi, a carpenter returned to Afghanistan from neighbouring Pakistan after the 2001 collapse of the Taliban, his hopes for the future were bright. He dreamed of opening a small furniture-making shop, maybe employing as many as 10 people. Instead, sitting in his dusty 6-foot by 10-foot workshop on Saturday, he said he opens just twice a week for lack of work.
"When the money came to this country the leadership of the government took the money and counted it as their personal money, and the people were not helped to change their life for the better,” said Ahmadi.
The report warns that Afghanistan's numbers might drop even further next year when it measures Afghans' happiness level after the arrival of the Taliban. The economy is currently in free fall as the group struggles to transition from fighting to governing.
It was exactly a year ago that the American forces and the rest of the Nato forces packed their bags and left Kabul in undignified haste, and the Taliban walked back into the Afghan capital after 20 years. There was no resistance. The chaos that ensued has died down, of course. The Afghans who could flee did leave
"Our flights frequently faced undue delays because of the unprofessional attitude of the Kabul aviation authorities," PIA spokesman said. The route will remain suspended until "the situation becomes conducive," he added.
The Taliban delegation, headed by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, began talks just after 0930 GMT with representatives of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the European Union and Norway.
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“We tell them we will not give you money until you train our children. Foreigners are not all the society; there are our young people and children who should be the priorities of these clubs. We will inspect the clubs to monitor what is happening inside," he added.