Misunderstanding Reality of Afghanistan


The Taliban movement, which has dominated Afghanistan since August 15, 2021, is still subject to diplomatic pressure from Russia, China, Uzbekistan, and several other regional countries, as well as some indirect financial pressure. Autocracies, however, are unwilling to comprehend the serious issues and challenges that might arise from such extremist governments that have turned to terrorism as a means of waging political war. Political and economic pressure on the Taliban leadership to change the rule also fails to produce noticeable consequences for a number of reasons. One of them is the Taliban’s support from certain structural and qualitative aspects of the system, which can be boiled down to a simple description of Islamist extremism and the absence of complete logic.

States cannot be in a position of autarky, closeness, or isolation from the global market to succeed in the modern world. Political scientists frequently make the claim that no state in the modern world could endure well and for very long without engaging in economic cooperation with other nations. Almost each contemporary state should be incorporated into the new global division of labor in some capacity, regardless of its resource base, natural resources, level of economic development, or human potential (NIDL). Afghanistan also has a highly complicated topographical geography, an agricultural economy, and little mineral resources. With a population of around 38.9 million and a $20 billion economy, the Taliban organization that overthrew the government in Afghanistan has a large reliance on imports as a result of the protracted military battle that has been going on there for many years.

With the help of the international community, Afghanistan has improved key social indices and sustained its strong economic development for more than ten years. The country’s economy expanded by an average of 9.4% between 2003 and 2012 as a result of the fast growth of the service sector and agriculture. However, the economy barely expanded by 2.5% year between 2015 and 2020, according to figures from the World Bank. With a population of around 38.9 million, the World Bank estimates that Afghanistan’s economy will be worth $20 billion in 2020 dollars at current exchange rates. Afghanistan has one of the lowest GDP per capita in the world ($512.7), which is three times less than the figure for Uzbekistan ($1685.8). According to government statistics, agriculture contributes 30.6% of Afghanistan’s GDP, followed by industry at 12% and services at 53%.

According to The World Bank, “the private sector is quite small, with employment focused in low-productivity agriculture (44% of the entire workforce works in agriculture). Foreign assets worth roughly $9.2 billion that were held by the nation’s central bank were blocked after the Taliban took control. Twenty million people, or half the country’s population, are presently experiencing food shortages, which is an escalation of the humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of highly skilled employees left the country, representing a substantial outflow of a human resource. Additionally, there were limitations placed on the employment of women in both the public and commercial sectors.

In other words, if they continue with business as usual, Afghanistan’s economy might tank, leaving large swaths of the populace without a means of subsistence. All of this will lead to a rise in radicalization and the threat of terrorism in the area and throughout the globe.

Using these unprocessed data, some nations continue to support the Taliban diplomatically without applying meaningful political pressure on them in order to weaken the government and allow access to international markets. Therefore, a meeting on Afghanistan was held in Moscow on February 17 at which the Taliban administration was legitimized without any assurances of forming an inclusive government or changing the political system. Therefore, some politicians have made odd, politically charged utterances. Konstantin Kosachev, vice-president of the Federation Council, stated: “Afghanistan is now in a position to exist as a sovereign, independent state. According to the Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council, this is only possible within the multipolarity of the current international order. It is significant that the Taliban government was not represented at the meeting, and on the eve, Afghanistan voted in favor of a resolution at the UN General Assembly that was critical of Russian financial aid to Ukraine. As a result, we may conclude that Russian diplomacy both failed to maintain its influence on the Taliban and failed to grasp the seriousness of the challenge of supporting such governments.

In any case, the weak and illogical Russia of today, which is in a serious state of political, economic, and military collapse, plays no significant role in Afghan affairs. The military establishment of Pakistan is not yet feeling any significant pressure from the major or regional countries on the Taliban and its backers. Although Pakistan fully supports the hardline elements of the Taliban movement, it is unable to completely control it for a variety of reasons. There are already indications that certain Taliban organizations and the Pakistani military are at odds. The Central Asian nations will also be impacted by Russia’s fall and are likely to exercise greater caution. The Taliban government’s latent support vector is believed by Uzbekistan to be accurate. It appears that this path will continue in some capacity. Tajikistan is very concerned about the Taliban growing in power, but since it lacks powerful backers and is obligated to cooperate with Moscow, its anti-Taliban stance won’t worsen. A debilitated Iran is only interested in ending the sanctions system and gives little thought to the Afghan issue.

Regional actors who participate in international affairs do not express a great deal of interest in Afghan politics and do not work to shift the balance of power. They begin by taking a look at their former comrades or companions from the top league. Second, there is less worldwide interest in Afghan politics. Thirdly, it appears that only the big powers can make a truly dramatic impact in the course of events in Afghanistan’s politics. Perhaps this isn’t totally accurate, but recent global political developments show that regional powers are vastly outclassed by their powerful rivals. 

Afghan politics are cohesive and may be characterized as being highly logical in terms of international relations. To prevent future and, in my opinion, unavoidable issues with the radicalization of Afghanistan, the region, and the growth of international terrorism, however, cooperative diplomatic measures are required. They may involve applying political and financial pressure to the Taliban government, suggesting changes at the same time, and then integrating Afghanistan into the global economy. As of now, the international world has only provided financial compensation for the inclusion of the government, which, as time goes on, the Taliban are unable to do. Additionally, some diplomatic efforts and pressure should be applied to the extreme movement’s funders. The international community ought to hold frank discussions with the Pakistani military and exert some pressure on it to utilize its clout with the Taliban.

Georgi Asatrian
Georgi Asatrian
Georgi Asatryan, associate professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University and Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.


White House warns Congress nearly ‘out of time’ on Ukraine funds

White House seeking $61 billion more for Ukraine aid....

The Climate Crisis is an Education Crisis

Authors: Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown and Yasmine Sherif “The one...

War for Profit: Implications of the Growing Private Security Industry

The private security industry mostly entails Private Military and...

The Commercialized War Between Israel and Hamas

The sudden assault of Hamas of Israel has resulted...