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 law student discusses the plight of Afghan citizens traveling long distances and waiting long hours in long lines at northern Afghanistan’s only functioning bank just to make use of their hard-earned salary. For privacy and security reasons we are withholding the name and institutional affiliation of our correspondent. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.
Long lines of more than 200 people are waiting at the door of Azizi Bank in Mazar-e-Sharif desperate to withdraw much-needed cash. The average waiting time is more than three hours while weekly withdrawals are limited to AFN 10,000 (less than US $100).
Azizi’s central branch is the only functioning bank open in the northern part of Afghanistan. People from other provinces, including Samangan, Sheberghan, and Faryab, travel there every week withdraw cash. I usually take leave from work and go with them to withdraw my own salary in cash.
We are not just facing issues with cash withdrawals. In fact, most banking services such as ATMs and Master/Visa Card services are unavailable and we are not even able to transfer money from one account to another without withdrawing cash first. In other words, we are forced to physically withdraw money from one account and deposit it in another.
This pitiful display represents signs of collapse in Afghanistan’s fragile private banking system.