Ruckus in Afghanistan: an economic perspective

Many people are unaware of behind the scenes that led to what can be considered Afghanistan’s upheaval, despite the Taliban’s known takeover leaving imprints and drawing reactions from millions of people throughout the world. Afghanistan has long been a land several emperors kept an eye on to spread control over the middle eastern terrain. The land has witnessed a relatively more significant number of wars since medieval times. It has been recognized as the third most war-torn country by the World Atlas website, taking the 20th and 21st centuries into consideration. With the Ghurid, Khalji, Lodi dynasties trying to take the country’s crown in the late 9th to 18th centuries, terrorist groups and Islamic guerrillas like Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Mujahedeen, and many more. The wrath of these wars did not allow the country to develop on economic and social well-being fronts. For ages, wars have been a significant way to walk back the road taken towards development to find oneself on the same stop as they began. Having experienced the same to-and-fro on the road to growth, Afghanistan could never really satisfy the aspirations of its citizen who day and night worries of survival and peace.

The 9/11 attack on the twin towers in the USA paved the beginning of a 20-year long struggle, from 2001 to last month, intending to eliminate terrorism and equip the nation with the power to resurrect. However, the latter turned out to be a substantial undeniable failure. War brings the costs of advanced weapons, high-quality military equipment, infrastructure, and humanity’s most valuable resource, humans. The years from 2001, when the U.S. entered with the intent of revenge, saw a vast amount of taxpayer’s money poured in to support the war costs. Aljazeera reports this amount to be a whopping $2.26 trillion, which, to get an idea of scale, is more than the nominal GDP of Italy in 2021. Citizens of any country indisputably would want their money to be used in their economic development and not prioritize helping another nation gain stability. The investments made to combat terrorism and train the Afghan army to fight do not reflect its growth as it stands today.

Ranked 177th on per capita GDP in 2019, with 90% of the Afghan population earning less than 2 dollars a day, Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest and unstable economies. The country saw some betterment with the incoming investments from various countries like the U.S., U.K., Australia, etc., around 2003. Emphasizing the contributions by the U.S. as the largest responsibility holder for the nation’s progress, it has largely contributed to the development of the energy sector by building solar plants and wind farms. It constructed thousands of kilometres of roads to connect rural areas for typical commutes and trading possibilities. Partnering with UNICEF, the U.S. also contributed to safe and clean drinking water to around 650,000 Afghans. One could not neglect the economic growth and standard of living betterment individually. Still, the constant state of terror attacks sporadically all over Afghanistan pointed towards defeat in the primary purpose of terror eradication.

With the constant casualties of military personals deployed by various countries against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, the U.S. count alone standing at 2355 as of 18th May 2020, the U.S. government saw massive backlash from its citizens. The war also brought colossal mental and social damage to the families of the deceased, injured or disabled for life, blurring the image of the very reason military exists. There is no lack of benchmarks to study the loss of human potential and prospective contributions of the young adults killed before they enter their 30s. The agony and heartbreak of the mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters who supported the soldier to fight for a cause and create a beautiful world cannot be interpreted, experienced, or paid back in any way possible. Though the minimum obligations to the veterans’ care promised by the U.S. government pushes the total cost to more than $6.4 trillion as per Brown University’s report. We can understand the economic impact in terms of the country’s degree of indebtedness and the holes in its residents’ pockets caused by increasing interest rates.

Continued investments should ideally suggest that the nation is on track to success and development. Nevertheless, the U.S.’s sudden withdrawal of military troops from Afghanistan has inarguably destroyed the purpose and effect of the billions of dollars, leaving the Taliban with $83 billion worth of ammunition, armored vehicles, helicopters, aeroplanes, drones, the list is disappointingly more extensive. Taliban is now by large the most equipped terror group on the planet. It’s the worst nightmare and failure of a 1st world nation to gift its most advanced technology in the hands of an extremist group that walks with arms all the time. The economics of the land is set to fall behind any country of similar size and population. At the same time, the residents are petrified by the takeover and trying to leave the country immediately.

Wars have been wealth-eaters on Earth for ages, and the way to manage social, cultural and ethnic conflicts have been disappointing too. But the idea of victory or loss of a stakeholder does not affect the common person’s livelihood, who is inevitably doomed to lose. When we have superpowers thinking to establish society on Mars, we need to take a step back to realize there are countries like Afghanistan where a girl hesitates to go to school, and the thought of being shot like Malala kills her dreams then and there. The future outcomes of Afghanistan remain vague to not entirely unpredictable, but the suffering and trauma of an Afghan falling from an aeroplane mid-air should stun us.

Dark days are ahead, but the fight is not over. Never give up.

References:

  1. The World’s Most War-Torn Countries — WorldAtlas
  2. The Economic Impact of the Taliban Takeover (finshots.in)
  3. Afghanistan: What has the conflict cost the U.S. and its allies? — BBC News
  4. The U.S. spent $2 trillion in Afghanistan — and for what? | Business and Economy News | Al Jazeera
  5. List of countries by GDP (nominal) — Wikipedia
  6. Coalition casualties in Afghanistan — Wikipedia
  7. Infrastructure | Afghanistan | U.S. Agency for International Development (usaid.gov)
  8. Macroeconomic Impact | Costs of War (brown.edu)
  9. It’s Worse Than We Thought: Complete List of Armaments U.S. Is Leaving to Taliban and Islamist Groups — Enough to Fortify Them for Years — Secret Warehouse of U.S. Equipment Captured? — GoodTree Ministries
  10. It’s Worse Than We Thought: Complete List of Armaments U.S. Is Leaving to Taliban and Islamist Groups — Enough to Fortify Them for Years — Secret Warehouse of U.S. Equipment Captured? — GoodTree Ministries

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