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Crumbling Afghan economy puts pressure on Taliban to negotiate

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No longer facing serious military opposition, the new Afghan Taliban rulers are grappling with a new threat: an economic collapse that could fuel new challenges for their regime and that has already pressured them to share power. .

There has been no legitimate government in Afghanistan since President Ashraf Ghani and most ministers escaped Kabul on August 15. For the next eight days, banks and exchange offices remained closed and commodity prices soared. Economic activity is at a standstill.

“People have money, but it’s in the bank, which means they’re out of money now. It’s hard to find money, ”said Bahir, a Kabul resident who worked as a financial agent for a construction company. “That’s why all activity in Kabul has stopped.

In the 1990s, a Taliban takeover revitalized the Afghan economy, ending fighting between rival warlords and reopening the routes to trade. At the time, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had established diplomatic relations with the Afghan Taliban leadership, and the stability that ensued made the movement more attractive. So far, however, no nation has recognized Kabul’s new regime, inflicting economic pain that could force the Taliban to form a more inclusive and moderate government comprising rival political forces.

“The sooner we move towards a political settlement, the sooner we will save Afghanistan from the dire economic consequences that are looming,” said Omar Zakhilwal, a former finance minister who returned to Kabul this week to participate in the power-sharing talks. power with the Taliban. “We are working in tandem with the Taliban to give Kabul a normal face: reopening of banks, offices, ministries. “

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