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 recent developments, including a new Taliban agreement with Iran on border, transport and trade and oil matters. 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.
Passports and arrests of former officials
The Passport Department of the Ministry of Interior has just resumed its operations after almost a month. The Passport Department has announced that they have issued a number of nearly 3K passports in just one day. Most of the people who apply to take a passport and or renew their previously issued passports are trying to leave the country. In order for anyone to receive a passport, the applicants must go through a biometric clearance. Once the biometric clearance is completed, the applicant shall pay the government fee and receive its passport accordingly. The concern regarding the biometric system is that its integrated with other government systems and if a former government employee conduct a biometric check, his/her details will appear. Yesterday two military officers from the ex-government were arrested by the Taliban after they went through a biometric check up at the Passport Department. This happens at a time that the Taliban they will not harm any former government employees, either military or civil.
Public health centers lack medicine and medical instruments. Medicine and medical equipments were provided by the international community during the last two decades in the country. After the fall of Afghanistan under the Taliban control nearly 2000 public health centers were closed. This was due to the lack sufficient assistance by donors. Furthermore, many medical employees including doctors and nurses left the country and or trying to leave. Due to the the closure of the public health centers as well as lack of medical equipment and medicine, many people are coming to Kabul from other provinces for treatment purposes. However, hospitals facilities and medicines are now not enough to provide medical services to the public.
Agreements with Iran
While countries have still not recognized the Taliban government and many are watching them to see how they observe human rights and the values achieved during the last 20 years, Iran has entered into direct negotiations with the Taliban and has now signed an agreement with them. Iran officials met the Taliban leaders for a number of times in Herat and Kabul.
Mohammad Sadeq – Khurasan Razawi’s mayor in Iran – met with the Herat Governor and discussed trade and transit, transportation, oil and gas, construction, and etc. issues between Iran and the Taliban government. The Taliban Spokesperson confirms that some agreements are made to develop economic relationship and business facilitation with Iran.
One agreement has 16 articles and regulates matters related to border/port regulation, trade and transit matters, establishment of gas pipeline, iron mines of Afghanistan and etc. According to the agreement, Duqarun and Islam Qala borders with Iran should remain active 24/7. Furthermore, the agreement mentions that a gas pipeline will be established from Duqarun to Islam Qala border. The Taliban says work on construction of this pipeline will be commenced soon.
These additional provisions are included in this agreement:
1. Taliban representatives will meet the Oil Ministry of Iran in the nearest future
2. Iran and the Taliban government will commence the construction of roads in Duqarun and Islam Qala port in the coming month
3. to determine tariffs on goods being traded between the countries, there will be joint committees composed of technical officials to study these goods and determine tariff on them.
4. a joint committee will be established to study challenges in Duqarun and Islam port and see solutions for them.
5. Iranian side shall behave well with Afghan drivers and ensure their safety and security.
6. Iran representatives from the Ministry of Urban Development will visit Afghanistan to discuss the establishment of a railway in Afghanistan.
7. Transit of dry fruits from Iran will be facilitated.
8. Iran will cooperate with Afghanistan in health sectors.
Iran and Afghanistan have more than 900 kilometers of joint border in which some of Afghanistan’s biggest customs and ports are located.
I believe that Iran is looking into opportunities to sell its oil and gas to Afghanistan as its sanctioned in the international market. Iran has also suffered from draught for the last two years especially in the border provinces with Afghanistan. The Salma dam located in Herat has caused many challenges to Iran as it prevented water from going to Iran last year.