Peace the only positive outcome
The village of Pakhel and its roughly 300 inhabitants are located near the Pakistani border in western Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province. The Pashtun village in the Pekha Valley lies just a few dozen kilometers from the Tora Bora caves that used to serve as the hideout of Osama bin Laden. This is where the terror attacks on New York and Washington were planned and orchestrated 20 years ago!
Life in the village is governed by a council of elders eight of whom agree to meet with Postimees. All exude unmovable dignity. They agree that they do not remember the village ever living as wretchedly as it does now, four months after the Taliban took over. All signs point to the situation getting worse.
Younger men of the village used to serve in the army or police force of the previous administration and brought back enough money to keep the whole village going. They have no work today.
“None at all,” Elder Haji Dashkat says when asked whether the Taliban are of any help. “They don’t have any money themselves.” The only good thing about Taliban rule is that life is peaceful in the village. Pakhel used to suffer from frequent attacks by ISIS fighters that were followed by U.S. drone strikes. This cost the lives of 16 villagers in 2017 and 2018.
Dashkat lost two sons to drone strikes. Collateral damage. Another elder’s eldest son died when an IED planted by ISIS fighters exploded.
There used to be attacks, but there was also work. While it is peaceful now, work has disappeared. “We prefer the current situation,” Elder Walayat Khan said. Another member of the council later walked up to our translator and said that he preferred the way things were, that at least people had jobs then, even though they were forced to live in fear.
When will Afghanistan be both peaceful and sport an economy able to provide people with enough work seems to be the million dollar question. People in the Pekha Valley, Kabul and Jalalabad who have talked to Postimees over the past week believe it will not be any time soon.
Food prices double over four months
Massive unemployment and public sector salary arrears have been complemented by the afghani rapidly losing its value against the dollar. This has resulted in rapid staple goods price hike as Afghanistan completely depends on import goods. People already cannot afford to buy food, while it is getting more expensive every day. The price of a liter of gasoline had climbed to €0.85 by this week in what is a desperately poor country. Many food products have seen their prices double in the four months since the Taliban took over.