Taliban name acting head of Afghan central bank to address ‘people’s problems’

  • The announcement comes at a time when banks reportedly remain closed in the country, ATMs are running out of cash and prices of essential items have risen by as high as 35 per cent since the group took over.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that Haji Mohammad Idris - the acting head of Afghanistan's central bank, will address the "looming banking issues" of the country.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that Haji Mohammad Idris - the acting head of Afghanistan's central bank, will address the "looming banking issues" of the country.
Updated on Aug 23, 2021 11:57 PM IST
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Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

More than a week after the Islamist insurgents Taliban swept Afghanistan’s capital Kabul with no or minimal resistance, the group has appointed one of its officials as the acting governor of the Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) – which is the country’s central bank — spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

Haji Mohammad Idris has been named the acting head of the DAB, even as the war-torn nation struggles with enormous economic turmoil with ATMs running out of cash and prices of essential items skyrocketing, Bloomberg reported.

In his Twitter post, Mujahid stated that Idris will “address the looming banking issues and the problems of the people,” according to the translation by Bloomberg.

Muhammad Jalal, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission told Bloomberg over a text message that Idris headed the group’s economic commission in the past.

In an interview with Bloomberg’s Odd Lots podcast, exiled central bank chief Ajmal Ahmady said that Afghanistan under Taliban faces an array of shocks that probably will result in weaker currency, capital controls and rapid inflation. He fled the country following the escape of other officials and leaders of Afghanistan, including former President Ashraf Ghani.

Taliban fighters have been making swift movements towards Kabul by capturing provincial capitals – starting with minor ones to major hubs, till August 15. Soon after Kabul fell in their hands, Afghan nationals began to make a beeline at the Hamid Karzai International Airport to leave the country and their regime.

Although the militants have, through its amnesty, assured that all Afghans will be safe and secured under their rule and that women and girls will be allowed to go to school as well as work, world leaders and organisations remain doubtful about the same.

Idris’ appointment comes at a time when Afghani currency hit a record low last week, soon after the Taliban took over. Banks have reportedly been shut and prices of basic food items such as oil and flour have risen by as high as 35 per cent over the previous seven days. The Bloomberg report added that pharmacies and drugstores are also shut across Kabul, even as Mujahid said that the group’s fighters are patrolling the city to ensure security.

Also Read | Taliban step up reprisals after promising amnesty

A spokesperson of the Afghanistan finance ministry, Mohammad Rafi Tabe, told Bloomberg over phone that banks in the country will become “operational by tomorrow or the day after.”

Tabe added though the finance minister left Afghanistan prior to the recapture of Kabul, the ministry is back to work and that all of its staff will function as per the same positions they had before the Taliban took over.

Meanwhile, one of the extremist group’s officials, in an interview with Sky News in Doha, warned the US against delaying the deadline of August 31 for withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan. “If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences,” Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen was quoted as saying.

Also Read | Afghanistan crisis: Taliban warn US of 'consequences' if August 31 deadline extended

He further said that the extension is a “red line” and delaying the withdrawal of forces would mean “[America] is extending occupation while there is no need for that.”

Shaheen said that if the US is intent on “continuing occupation” of Afghanistan, it will “provoke a reaction” from the Taliban.

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Saturday, October 23, 2021