Security

Abductions, murders of Afghan businessmen highlight Taliban security failures

By Khesraw

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Taliban fighters stand guard at an entrance gate of the Sardar Daud Khan military hospital in Kabul on November 3, a day after an attack claimed by 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS). [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

KABUL -- Afghan's business community is blaming a recent increase in assassinations and abductions of members on the Taliban's failure to ensure the safety and security of Afghans.

As many as 40 businessmen and investors have either been killed or abducted since the Taliban assumed power in Afghanistan in August, according to the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI).

"We expected the [Taliban] to ensure the security and safety of Afghan traders and investors," said Kabul-based economic analyst Siam Pesarlai.

"However, we see the trend is heading in the opposite direction, given the growing number of kidnappings and killings, and the insecurity across the country," he said, referring to the ACCI's data.

"The growing incidence of abduction has become a major concern for many traders and investors, especially since some of those who were kidnapped have lost their lives," said Khan Jan Alokozay, ACCI deputy chief.

Four businessmen have recently been killed in Kabul, said Alokozay, without giving details on whether they died in botched abduction attempts or after being kidnapped.

The Taliban must take serious and urgent action to ensure the safety of businessmen, he said.

The security situation has continued to deteriorate and all traders are concerned about their safety, an Afghan businessman who exports dried fruit told Salaam Times on the condition of anonymity.

"After dozens of businessmen were either abducted or killed, the ACCI and several businessmen mustered up enough courage to raise their concerns with the Taliban, who promised to re-deploy personal bodyguards for the traders," the businessman said.

The Taliban cannot provide security for the Afghan people and business community because they do not have professionals to devise and implement a comprehensive security plan, said another dried-fruit exporter.

"The Taliban irresponsibly dismantled and disarmed traders' bodyguards. Now that they have realised they failed to provide security, they have decided to return weapons to some traders," he told Salaam Times on the condition of anonymity.

In response to the security deterioration, the Taliban reversed the ban on weapons for some traders but not all.

"Unfortunately, the Taliban governance system is outrageous. They have failed to organise their armed forces to provide security for the public, businessmen and factory owners," he said.

"Since taking power, the Taliban have not been able to present any security plan," he added.

Dire consequences

Unless the Taliban take serious actions to protect businessmen, the current conditions could have dire consequences for the country, said Ebadullah Darman, an economic analyst in Kabul.

"The rising number of abductions of traders ... could force traders to flee the country and invest elsewhere, which would have the most negative consequences for the nation," he said.

Pesarlai the economic analyst said continued insecurity and Taliban officials' negligence in providing safety for the public could leave traders with no option other than taking their money out of Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan is now at a crossroads ... we are facing both brain drain and capital flight," he said.

"The Taliban face a serious challenge. They need to listen to citizens, address their problems and ensure businessmen's security. If they fail in these areas, they cannot last more than six months," Pesarlai added.

Khalil Ahmad Manawi, a fourth-year economics student at Kabul University, said Afghanistan is facing a serious economic crisis and the Taliban's continued neglect could endanger many lives.

"The conflict and a change in government without holding elections but rather by force have impelled many businessmen to leave the country with their capital," he said.

"Despite knowing the prevailing security risks, some businessmen have stayed on and continued to operate, and we must appreciate their courage," Manawi added.

"Unfortunately, instead of providing an environment conducive to business and investment, the Taliban disarmed traders' bodyguards and failed to ensure their safety and security," he added.

Manawi said traders have facilitated the export of Afghan products and provided hundreds of jobs across the country, and the termination of their operations could increase unemployment.

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