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Taliban capture Dostum’s palace, expose lavish lifestyle

The Taliban's relentless swaths in the country have dominated the news on digital and social media. Nonetheless, their capture of the Royal Residence of Field Marshal Dostum brings forth the luxuriant way of living of the elites.

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The Taliban exposed the lavish and luxurious lifestyle of so-called Field Marshal Dostum by taking control of his royal residence. The opulent living of the elite speak volumes about the polarization of Afghan society where a larger chunk of the population lives beyond their means. The millions of Afghan people fall into the poverty trap as the elites thrived at the expense of the deprived. The poverty rate has risen from 59% to 72% at the start of the year 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Poverty rise In Afghanistan amid Covid-19 rise

As a result of economic contraction with the country bracing for the Covid-19 second wave in early 2021, the poverty rates have risen from 55% to 72% as manifested in a report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). With the power vacuum emerging from US withdrawal on 4th July 2021 and stakeholders aiming to gain maximum power from the void, violence and poverty will remain unabated.

Poverty in Afghanistan is concentrated in rural areas. The Central, North-east, West-Central regions have the highest number of poor inhabitants with the lowest per capita consumption and highest likelihood of poverty. Lack of livelihoods, education, and inaccessibility to basic services contribute to Afghan poverty as people face unemployment issues at multiple levels and are vulnerable to economic shocks. International spending has helped the economy in a limited way as it has not benefited all sectors.

Read more: Did 9/11 attacks halt Bush’s plan of invasion in Afghanistan?

Afghan social fabric crumbles

The onset of violence had shackled the very core of Afghan social and moral order. As millions descended into poverty, homelessness, and unemployment, the country’s economic and social institutions suffered drastically. The social fabric of Afghan society has shattered with the poor and deprived facing the brunt of power tussle and wealth grab in the country.

One reason why there isn’t any coherent policy in peace talks is the increasing divide within the Afghan government and other anti-Taliban factions. The ex-Northern Alliance warlords including Ahmed Masood, Dostum, and Hikmatyar also do not support Ashraf Ghani and are ready to fight independently or enter into an alliance with the Taliban in return for some recompense.

Many Afghan leaders blame the presidency of Ashraf Ghani for his inflexibility towards a collaborative power-sharing formula. There are emerging voices for the incumbent president to step down and create space for a more acceptable interim administration. However, there appears to be no impartial or undisputed leader who could unite disparate Afghan factions. The common thread forming the interest skein for all, however, is a stake in the Afghan power pie.

The refugee crisis in Pakistan

Moreover, the aftermath of the US invasion and the Taliban’s resurgence led to massive displacement as numerous crossed borders to take refuge in Pakistan and the spillover of militancy and terrorism created a security crisis in Pakistan.

Read more: Pakistan provided “strategic depth” to Afghanistan – Gen. Tariq Khan hits back!

Pakistan has suffered greatly during the period of Afghan civil war and war and against terror through the spillover of militancy and the refugee influx. Having faced this situation before and suffered the repercussions of faulty decisions to host Afghan refugees, Pakistan needs to take prudent and timely decisions to overcome the volatile situation across the border.

The prospects are grim and bloody as the Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi and National Security Adviser, Dr. Moeed Yusuf have warned of the potential instability in Afghanistan and its spill-over impact on Pakistan. He warned that the influx of refugees may bring back militancy and terrorism in Pakistan as terrorist outfits may infiltrate alongside refugees.

And it will be difficult for the border authorities to differentiate between them. As the Taliban has stated that they will not allow the Afghan soil as a launching pad for terrorism and a haven for terrorist outfits, Pakistan needs to drive this point ahead with greater emphasis. He reiterates the need to enforce counter-terrorism and law-enforcement capabilities to tackle this reintroduced threat brimming upon borders.

Read more: 3 capitals in 3 days: Is the Taliban about to take over Afghanistan?

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