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Back to Barter: Cash starved Taliban offers wheat as salaries to Govt staff

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Representational image. The Taliban has announced that they will pay the salaries of government officials with wheat donated to Afghanistan by foreign countries including India as they do not have any money (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@SalehaSoadat)

The Taliban has announced that they will pay the salaries of hundreds of government officials with wheat donated to Afghanistan by foreign countries including India as they do not have any money to pay them.

“Wheat, largely donated by India to the previous Afghan government, is being used to pay 40,000 workers and other staff 10kg of wheat per day for working five hours a day,” said Fazel Bari Fazli, the Taliban's deputy minister of agriculture, adding the program would be extended to other provinces besides Kabul.

Afghanistan's economic and humanitarian crisis has deepened since the Taliban captured power in August last year. The Taliban's latest announcement underlined the financial crisis engulfing the country.

It could also raise questions among donors over the Taliban using humanitarian aid to fund their government, even as strict rules remain in place over money going into Afghanistan.

“Humanitarian aid has been turned into a currency, where Afghans have to work for the Taliban regime or go hungry,” says Hima Fatima Khan who works for an aid programme.

According to the Taliban, they are expecting 50,000 tonnes of wheat from humanitarian aid India which is now reaching Afghanistan via Iran after hurdles created by Pakistan for shipping the same. However, the Taliban did not say how much of the newly-donated wheat may be used to pay as salaries and how much would be distributed as humanitarian aid.

This announcement has come at a time amid news of Afghans protesting over the poor economic conditions and human rights situation under the Taliban 2.0 regime.

Taliban took over Afghanistan on August 15 and has since formed a new government. However, the terrorist organisation has failed to bring stability in the country which has caused, economic failure, poverty, unemployment and blackouts in the country. The conditions due to a harsh winter. According to the UN,  more than half the population — some 23 million Afghans — are facing what the World Food Programme  calls extreme levels of hunger. Malnutrition is soaring. Food prices have risen. And the WFP's surveys show the overwhelming majority of Afghans, 98% of the population, lack enough food to eat.

Also Read: In a major turnaround Taliban thanks India for delivering humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan