In dire straits - GulfToday

In dire straits


People roam around a market in Kabul. Reuters

Afghanistan is an agrarian economy. It is not self-sufficient. It does not export many commodities or products.

The economy basically depends on foreign aid and handouts from Western nations for survival. Now, those foreign taps are running dry. The US has frozen US$ 9.5 billion Afghan reserves in banks. World Bank has suspended US$ 5.3 billion development aid. The IMF has also choked funds. The West is unlikely to pump money into a country, which lacks a trustworthy, cogent government. The Taliban has no institutions, systems, processes or protocols. Taliban is not a government; it is an amorphous movement.

The educated global elites of the world are not likely to fund a group, which shoots women for going to school or not wearing a “burqa”. There is a complete clash of values. So, the Taliban will run out of money to import even basic necessities like food and medical supplies.

The local currency, the Afghan, has eroded by 10 per cent in the last four weeks. It is expected to depreciate further. Prices of basic food products like wheat and lentils have soared by 25 per cent in recent weeks. Many traders and middlemen who used to import food grains have fled the country. So, sourcing basic foods will be a challenge. Local Afghani citizens are beleaguered to withdraw moneys from their local banks.

The Afghan economy could crash perilously, since there are no macro-economic factors to support it. The Taliban are fighters. They are not economists. Sure, there are some friendly countries who will lend a helping hand. However, some of these countries like Pakistan are themselves surviving on IMF and World Bank handouts.

Afghanistan is renowned as the graveyard of empires. However, this graveyard does not grow enough wheat to feed its people. Wheat is grown locally, but is also imported. Unless the Taliban beat their guns into shovels, they will not be able to feed the Afghans.

Rajendra Aneja
Mumbai, India

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