Afghanistan After Takeover Of Taliban: Illusion Of Progress, Mining Contracts (Part IV) – OpEd

This opinion piece originally appeared in Eurasiareview August 10, 2023

By Najib Azad

Afghanistan, a country rich in mineral resources, has been a battleground for various factions vying for control over its lucrative mining sector. The Taliban, an extremist Islamic group, has been a significant player in this struggle, leveraging the country’s mineral wealth to fund its operations. In recent years, the Taliban has signed several mining contracts to promote economic development in the regions under its control. However, these contracts have been shrouded in controversy, with critics arguing that they are merely a smokescreen for the Taliban’s illicit activities.

The recent announcement by the Taliban regarding the signing of mining contracts worth over $6.5 billion with local and foreign companies has been hailed by the group as a sign of progress and economic stability in Afghanistan. However, a closer examination of these contracts reveals a deeply flawed and unsustainable approach to economic development under the Taliban regime. This article will delve into the issues surrounding Afghanistan’s mining contracts with the Taliban, focusing on the lack of transparency, international sanctions, human rights abuses, and gender inequality.

Lack of Transparency and International Sanctions

One of the main concerns surrounding these mining contracts is the lack of transparency and accountability. The international community has imposed economic sanctions on Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021. These sanctions have severely impacted the country’s financial and banking sectors, making it nearly impossible to conduct legitimate financial transactions. Without a functioning banking system, it is unclear how the Taliban government plans to receive and manage the substantial investments promised by these contracts. The United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions on the Taliban, including an arms embargo, travel bans, and asset freezes, in response to its involvement in terrorism and human rights abuses. By signing mining contracts, the Taliban is effectively circumventing these sanctions, using the revenues from the mining sector to fund its operations and strengthen its grip on power.

Furthermore, the skepticism surrounding the viability of these contracts is justified, given the absence of a legal framework to regulate the mining sector. The Taliban regime lacks the technical, legal, and police capacity to oversee and manage such complex contracts. The absence of a constitution and a comprehensive mining legal framework raises serious concerns about the legitimacy and enforceability of these agreements. Without a clear legal-policy framework, the contracts signed by the Taliban are nothing more than empty promises.

Therefore, in relation to the global sanctions placed on the Taliban, it’s not just the Taliban that are in breach of international laws. Any nation that forms a legally binding agreement with the Taliban also contravenes these laws. Consequently, not just the Taliban but also Pakistan, China, Iran, Turkey, and Britain violate international law. The international community’s duty, especially the UN, USA, and European Union, is to respond and potentially impose sanctions on these countries.

Human Rights Abuses and Gender Inequality

While the Taliban may boast about economic stability and increased trade, reality tells a different story. The Taliban’s men-only government has imposed strict interpretations of Islamic law, severely restricting women’s access to education and employment. Girls are banned from attending school beyond the sixth grade, and women are prohibited from working for the government and aid organizations. These oppressive policies have left two-thirds of the population needing humanitarian assistance, further exacerbating the already dire situation in Afghanistan.

The treatment of Afghan women under Taliban rule has drawn international condemnation and has led many countries to refuse recognition of the Taliban administration. The restrictions on women’s rights, including the closure of women-run businesses and the denial of basic freedoms, clearly violate human rights principles. It is deeply concerning that the international community is willing to engage in economic partnerships with a regime that perpetuates such gross human rights violations.

The Illusion of Progress

The partners in the mining contracts may consider the contracts to be a step toward economic development and stability. However, upon closer examination, it becomes evident that these contracts are nothing more than a facade. The lack of transparency, the absence of legal frameworks, and the ongoing human rights abuses undermine any claims of progress made by the Taliban.

The international community, particularly the countries that entered the mining contracts with the Taliban, must not be swayed by the illusion of progress presented by these mining contracts. Instead, they should prioritize the protection of human rights and the empowerment of Afghan women. Economic development cannot be achieved at the expense of basic freedoms and fundamental rights. Any engagement with the Taliban regime should be conditional upon tangible improvements in human rights and the establishing of a transparent and accountable governance system.

The lack of transparency, the absence of legal frameworks, and the ongoing human rights abuses undermine any claims of progress made by the Taliban. The revenues from the mining contracts are not being used to improve the lives of the Afghan people but are instead being funneled into the Taliban’s coffers to fund its operations. The jobs created by these contracts are often exploitative, with workers subjected to harsh conditions and denied their basic rights. The investment promoted by these contracts is not sustainable, as it is based on the extraction of finite mineral resources and does not contribute to the development of other sectors of the economy.

Moreover, the mining contracts have not brought stability to the regions under the Taliban’s control. Instead, they have fueled conflict and violence as various factions vie for control over the lucrative mining sector. The mining contracts have also exacerbated social inequalities, with the benefits accruing to a small elite while most of the population remains impoverished.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the mining contracts signed by the Taliban are not a panacea for Afghanistan’s economic woes but are instead a source of further instability and conflict. These contracts are characterized by a lack of transparency, defiance of international sanctions, human rights abuses, and gender inequality. They represent not progress but an illusion of progress, serving the interests of the Taliban at the expense of the Afghan people. Therefore, it is imperative for the international community to address these issues and ensure that Afghanistan’s mineral wealth is used for the benefit of all its people.

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