Educated, skilled, enterprising Afghan refugees in Pakistan can fill the void back home’

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Islamabad, 16 September: In an interactive session at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Dr Ghulam Farouq  Azam, a veteran Afghan leader and academician, has termed the incumbent rule of Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan (IEA) as the only hope for the people of the country as the previous government had left it in the lurch creating an administrative void that needs to be filled.

Dr Azam, a development economist and politician, has served as economic advisor to former Afghan President Daoud Khan and later became a Mujahideen leader and has remained a part of two governments in Kabul before the advent of the Taliban in 1995. He has been actively involved in the intra-Afghan peace process as the chairman of the Movement for Peaceful Transformation of Afghanistan during the last few years.

Regarding the collapse of the US-backed Afghan government machinery against the onslaught of the Taliban, the speaker said, “the Taliban did not trigger the fall of the system as it collapsed on its own.”

Dr Azam believed that educated, skilled Afghan refugees in Pakistan can fill the void created by the exodus of Western-funded, anti-Taliban workforce in Afghanistan.

He viewed the Taliban as having inherited a feeble country with a shrinking economy that is on the verge of economic collapse. He hoped the Talban would prove their mettle as better administrators than the Ashraf Ghani-led government.

He called unemployment one of the biggest challenges in Afghanistan now as around half a million people who were part of the Afghan army, police and militias and were getting salaries from the United States have become jobless. Similarly, previous government employees, the staffers of civil society organizations, NGOs, and media organizations who were being paid by the international community were now faced with a bleak future.

The hue and cry of the educated Afghans after the US withdrawal does not indicate their love for the USA. Rather, it shows that most Afghan people who became dependent on international funding are concerned about their future as jobs are hard to find and the government’s resources are scarce.

He warned the Taliban-led government against the growing chaos amid the lack of jobs in Afghanistan. He urged them to face this daunting challenge by creating employment opportunities for people who have become unemployed. Otherwise, the masses will create hindrances in governance that will eventually lead to the government’s failure.

He also deliberated on a dilemma the Taliban government is facing currently; whether the government should feed the people or provide services to them. Employing excessive people in government or other institutions will be disastrous for the country in the long run.

Another big task lying ahead for the Taliban is to find skilled and like-minded human resource to run the state machinery. The United States and its allies have evacuated more than 125000 Afghans so far, mostly those who have worked with Americans and previous Afghan governments creating a vacuum of skilled human resource in Afghanistan. This however has created lack of relevant skilled labour in the country.

The speaker opined that most Afghan refugees living in Pakistan were educated and trained, are good entrepreneurs, and would be willing to go back to Afghanistan to help the new government if it creates opportunities for them to fill the vacuum. This thing should be facilitated by both Pakistan and the IEA, he stressed.

The speaker doubted the intention of the US government, which perhaps does not want the future government to succeed or wants to prove to the international community that the people of Afghanistan did not want them to leave.

Dr Azam, who has spent most of his professional career in the West, announced that he is returning to Kabul to advise the IEA on the economic security and future of Afghanistan.