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Poverty, unemployment driving Afghanistan towards instability

Gulf-Middle East, Mon, 06 Oct 2008 IANS

Kabul, Sep 29 (Xinhua) War-torn Afghanistan has experienced its deadliest year in 2008 since the collapse of the Taliban regime in late 2001. The high rate of unemployment and poverty in the war-wracked country is driving young men to join the Taliban - not so much for the ideology as the handsome monthly stipend they offer.


More than 4,000 people, including 1,445 civilians, have been killed so far this year.



Many of the fighters joining Taliban insurgents are illiterate tribal people, young seminarians and low educated jobless youths who easily get influenced by the Taliban recruiters.



'If I fail to find a job I would have no choice except to join Taliban or leave for Iran as I heard they (Taliban) pay more stipend than the government,' said a jobless youth who was waiting for a customer at a square in west of Kabul.



The Taliban outfit, according to him, pay $400 while a government soldier receives some $200 a month.



Hundreds of jobless Afghans are seen waiting from dawn to dusk at Chawk Kota Sangi square west of Kabul to be hired.



If anyone calls for a labourer, dozens would surround him.



The job-seeking man who introduced himself Faiz Ali emphasized that 'no one would commit suicide unless he or she is fed up with the miserable life'.



Though there is no exact statistics about the rate of unemployment in Afghanistan, it is said that some 40 percent of the country's 25 million population are jobless and some five million Afghans live below the poverty line in the country.



War-torn and landlocked Afghanistan is largely dependent on the international community's assistance to recover from over three decades of war and civil strife.



Since the collapse of the Taliban regime in late 2001, the international community has contributed more than $35 billion for rebuilding of the war-battered nation.



In the post-Taliban Afghanistan, the per capita income has increased from $70 in 2001 to $300 in 2008, according to Aziz Shams, an official at the ministry of finance. Afghanistan, though it has made tremendous achievements in the fields of communication and road building, needs to go a long way to recover from war devastation and stand on its own feet.



Majority of Afghans have little access to clean water, jobs, job insurance and regular income to run their daily life smoothly.



Increasing Taliban-led militancy, poor living conditions, particularly in the countryside, and the sway of warlords coupled with corruption and poppy cultivation have enabled militants to challenge the government and exploit the situation for their benefit.



'Taliban militants come to our village almost every night and ask people to support them either by giving money or men,' said a man from Barakibarak district of Logar province who did not want to be identified.



He also said the government has to protect the lives and properties of the citizens by eliminating Taliban insurgents from each corner of the country.



Mostly proclaimed offenders and those at large have gathered under the umbrella of Taliban to hide their identities and escape punishment, a person from southern Uruzgan province said.



The 48-year old man who refused to be identified said the Taliban outfit pays 500,000 Afghanis (about $10,000) as reward for any group or individuals who attack a district headquarters.



Many of those who carry out suicide bombings, according to him, besides receiving money from their masters have been brainwashed.



'The high rate of unemployment has driven thousands of Afghan youth to the neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Iran to seek jobs or go to the Taliban rank to fight the government and international troops based in Afghanistan,' the man stressed.



He also emphasized that the daily long queue of visa seekers behind the embassies of Iran and Pakistan speak of the living condition of the people in Afghanistan. 'The Taliban would further benefit from the situation if the status quo goes unchecked,' he said.


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