JURIST EXCLUSIVE – Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation there after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. Here, a lawyer in Kabul offers his observations and perspective on the Taliban’s inability to pay surrounding countries for Afghanistan’s electricity. For privacy and security reasons we are withholding our correspondent’s name and institutional affiliation. The text has been only lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.
Most of Afghanistan’s electricity comes from Uzbekistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and other surrounding countries. Since the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan has not paid these countries yet. Tajikistan, actually clashing with the Taliban according to local news reports, has said that they will cut off electricity if they are not paid. Tajikistan is one of many countries to criticizing the Taliban’s government structure, saying that the government is not inclusive.
The electricity regulatory authority says the Taliban government has to pay an amount of $62M USD to the above countries. This figure could go up to 90M USD if these countries ask for the late payment penalty. The Taliban Government has requested UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) to help them pay these countries, but as of now no news from UNAMA. I am sure that Tajikistan will cut off its electricity to Afghanistan because of their current clash with the Taliban. We are already witnessing power cut-offs these days. Today we did not have electricity for more than 6 hours.
It seems that the Taliban are seeking more options to be able to pay these fees. One of them which got my attention today is that they announced they are looking to sell the properties of former government officials and pay those amounts.
What raises my concern is how they will do so? Most of the ex-government officials have personal property in the country and the Taliban – actually no one – has the right to sell it, according to the Afghan Civil Code and our Property Law. Selling anyone’s property requires a court order, which is difficult at the moment. There are no courts open and no other judicial agency operates.