Afghanistan is in a severe crisis. From humanitarian catastrophe to economic meltdown, food hunger to healthcare issues, educational decline to poverty and unemployment, and from diminishing women rights to lowering HDI – there is no plausible indicator that reflects a meaningful and prosperous life in Afghanistan. On the other side, instead of focusing on their due responsibilities as a government to pull the country from this dangerous whirlpool, Taliban have been repeating the same old mistakes. The government has started public punishment by flogging 27 people including one woman in Charikar capital of Parwan province, while they publicly executed a murderer in Farah on December 7. They have banned female education while rudderless governance, corruption, and political vendetta and victimisation are at their peak.
A dwindling economy and surging poverty:
There is no human development indicator worthy of appreciation in the country. Pathetically, the HDI score of Afghanistan in 2022 is 0.496 which ranks the country on number 170th out of 177 states.
Human Rights Watch says that 90 percent of the Afghan population is facing some form of food insecurity.
The SIGAR in its report said that malnutrition in November 2022 had reached to a dangerous level as 4.7 million Children and pregnant women were at risk of acute malnutrition. On food security front, the UNICEF during the start of this year had warned that 18.9 million (which is half of Afghanistan’s population) will have severe food insecurity by 2022 (the authenticity of the report is evident), while Human Rights Watch says that 90 percent population is facing some form of food insecurity. Astonishingly, as per the Global Hunger Index, Afghanistan’s rank is 109th in 121 countries.
The economy of the country is devastated whereas its GDP has contracted . The World Bank says that Afghanistan’s economy has contracted 30 to 35 percent where per capita income has gone down. As far as poverty is concerned, the UNDP says that 97 percent of population of Afghanistan could plunge into poverty by 2022 whilst unemployment has grown up to 25 percent – one of the worst in the world. The WHO further fears that 24.2 million people are in need of urgent emergency and humanitarian assistance. It states that in 2023, the people who would need immediate healthcare assistance will be 17.6 million.
Crisis in education:
Coming towards education sector, let alone science and technology, even basic education is in doldrums. This already gloomy situation is facing more blows with the ban on female education and closure of hundreds of schools and universities due to lack of budget. The literacy rate , which in 2021 was 37.5 percent would be impacted even further with the ban of women’s education and lack of budget for salaries for the education sector. While the women of Afghanistan have been deprived of education, poverty and unemployment has endangered their future, forcing their parents to choose underage marriages, which is also sometimes the only way to save them from forced marriages with the Taliban (as was witnessed in Taliban regime before, where Taliban married young Afghan girls despite already being married). Abubakar Siqique writes in Gandhara that Afghans are increasingly marrying off their young daughters to avoid forced unions with the Taliban.
A treasure trove of natural resources:
On the other hand, Afghanistan is a heaven of natural resources with no extraction mechanism. What the Taliban needed to do was to attract foreign companies for investment by making suitable ground. Unfortunately they have failed to do so, as their priorities seem to be flogging, public executions, and inciting fear among the masses. How can fear, in a heterogeneous state and a state where resistance against barbarianism is in the blood of the dwellers, be the basis of government in the twenty first century?
The Taliban, who should have focused on issues of governance, eradication of corruption, ending mine and thine, bridging power struggle within Taliban, on infrastructure development and more, are instead busy wasting their energies in other directions. History testifies that a rudderless, leaderless, and short-sighted government has neither succeeded in the past nor will in the future. The Taliban who had the opportunity to turn the pages of the history, provide credibility to their anti-imperialist narrative, burn midnight oil for the progress of the country, learn from previous mistakes, provide a safe haven for Afghan intellectuals, go shoulder to shoulder with the international community, and start a new era of brotherhood and reconciliation in the country, are, sadly, heading towards a lustreless path of devastation.