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The Taliban: What is their source of income?

Taliban now in control of Afghanistan

For the insurgent Taliban, the Covid 19 pandemic has not dented the inflow of income even as the world grappled with severe economic constraints. Extortion, drug trafficking which includes opium as a large chunk, ransom, extraction from illegal mining, and local taxes comprise the main sources of revenue generation for the hardline militant group, which is now set to rule Afghanistan.

According to a United Nations report, the ongoing pandemic “does not appear to have had a material impact on trading routes, with the so-called Balkan and southern routes retaining their status as the primary trafficking channels for Afghan opiates.”

It has an estimated annual income of about $1.6 billion- $3 billion.

Sample this. The report noted that the seizure of Afghan heroin in Azerbaijan reportedly increased to 2,240 kg in 2020, compared to 802 kg in 2019. At the same time, the pattern and origin of methamphetamine seizures in countries neighbouring Afghanistan suggest that the manufacture of the drug in Afghanistan remained steady during the pandemic.

Also read: America removes flag from Kabul embassy, takes over airport for evacuating staff

Besides, it also added that the Taliban have also been expanding territorial control to extort money from a wide range of public infrastructure services, including road construction, telecommunications and road transport. According to the report, the daily taxes collected from illegal Taliban vehicle checkpoints between Pul-e Khumri and Mazar-e Sharif alone are estimated to be substantial.

Donations from several other organisations and individuals have also generated adequate income for the Taliban.

Sources told India Narrative that it is not yet clear what would be Taliban strategy relating to the ongoing infrastructure projects including China’s much hyped Belt and Road Initiative.

“They will need resources and the ongoing projects will be a ready source of income. While the Taliban have promised to protect these infrastructure projects, uncertainty has increased and the world has to wait and watch,” a person on condition of anonymity told India Narrative.