By Syed Ali Mujtaba
Now the Taliban are in full control of Afghanistan and has formed an interim government, it is hotly being debated how they will run the country and tackle the insurmountable problems that they have inherited after the brutal conquest of their nation.
Critics are going hammer and tongs that they simply can’t pull up a rabbit from their turbans and fix the country’s problems that are riddled with civil strife, poverty, hunger, and economic morass for several decades.
The Taliban are facing many challenges as Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world that is ravaged by war and the theater of great game between superpowers for a long. The crucial issue before the Taliban is to make strategies to recover the country from the cash crunch, hunger, severe drought, poverty, and numerous such things that are by-products of civil war.
The fact remains that since the US occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 the country was run on a huge amount of foreign aid that flowed into the country largely due to the largess of the international donors. This international assistance is estimated to be more than the Afghan GDP and it was these financial stimuli that run the country for almost two decades. Now after the US and the coalition withdrawal, it’s likely that the flow of money pledged by the donors may dry up. In such a situation, this will spell disaster for Afghanistan.
The challenge before the Taliban is to shore up finances and revive the economy. They have to work out on payment of government employees and run crucial utility services in the country. This they have to do at a time when the local currency is losing its value and its foreign reserves held abroad are frozen and the country faces a huge cash crunch.
The UN has warned of a humanitarian crisis looming large in Afghanistan with food stocks running low due to disruptions caused by the conflict. With the winter approaching and the drought still ongoing and the political scenario being hazy the ‘green shoots’ are not in the offing in the country. The common Afghans have suffered a lot during the civil war and no more like to see another round of bloodshed in the country are not so confident about the ability of the Taliban to govern the country.
The biggest problem that the Taliban faces is to supplement the huge cash inflow into the country in the form of international aid that so far had helped to run the country. There are countries to bail out Afghanistan from its looming crisis but their role remains nebulous.
China, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates has given assurances to the Taliban to stem their crisis. It is believed that Qatar, UAE, and Turkey will be the major partners in the operational management of Afghanistan. China will be the development partner and Pakistan will be its military partner. However, the question remains that what price does the Taliban have to pay to these countries in return for their assistance financial or otherwise?
India is one such country that has helped Afghanistan in all aspects of nation-building. It has been doing so for the past two decades, ever since US-occupied Afghanistan. India at the moment India is on a ‘wait and watch mode and observing how the Taliban govern their country. Nonetheless, India’s role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan cannot be ignored.
The other challenge before the Taliban is to fill the acute shortage of skilled persons to run the country. This includes bureaucrats, bankers, doctors, engineers, professors, and university graduates that are in terribly short supply. How this gap will be plugged in remains to be seen.
The Taliban have won the victory against the US and NATO forces but now the task they have in hand is to resurrect the country almost from the scratch. The world expects to form them to form an inclusive government and unify the nation first and be soft on women and stop human rights violations. The international community is eagerly watching how the Taliban run Afghanistan.
The challenge before Taliban is to win the public trust and recognition from the international community? There is widespread apprehension that the Taliban may not be able to cope up with the pulls and pressure of governance. They may crack under their weight and soon the country will slip into another civil war.
The other view is the Taliban has really learned its lessons from the past and has changed for the better than was seen in the 1990s. The Taliban are aware of the problems they face are capable to deal with them with deftness as they showed their fighting skills on the battlefield. However, many skeptics feel that the Taliban cannot tread the treacherous path ahead. How Taliban will bell the cat is a human drama that’s unfolding in the war-ravaged country.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org