Afghan currency crashes, central bank governor flees

Afghan currency crashes, central bank governor flees as Taliban take over Kabul
3 min read
17 August, 2021
Turmoil in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of Kabul has sent the economy into steep decline.
The Taliban's takeover of Kabul sparked an exodus [Getty]

The Afghan currency has crashed as the acting governor of the country's central bank fled Afghanistan and Taliban fighters seized Kabul on Sunday.

The Afghani fell 1.7 percent on Tuesday to 83.5013 per dollar according to Bloomberg, following four days of rapid decline, with the Afghan economy on the verge of collapse.

As the Taliban crept closer to the Afghan capital, the central bank (DAB) was told on Friday that there would be no more dollar shipments, sparking panic, according to Acting Governor Ajmal Ahmady.

Ahmady left the country on Sunday along with politicians and other bankers, in a scramble out of Afghanistan amid a rising political storm and violence.

In a Twitter thread posted Monday about the unfolding crisis, Ahmady wrote: "We received a call that given the deteriorating environment, we wouldn’t get any more dollar shipments.

"People spread rumors that I had fled on Friday.

"On Saturday, DAB had to supply less currency to the markets on Saturday, which further increased panic."

Although he held meetings on Saturday to "reassure banks and money exchangers to calm them down", Ahmadi said he left on Sunday after the situation deteriorated overnight.

He said he secured a Kam Air flight for Sunday evening.

"Then the floor fell: the President had already left," he continued.

"I knew right then my flight would be cancelled and there would be chaos. As expected employees & military left posts. Everyone ran through gates to on Kam Air flight. 300+ passengers boarded for a 100-seat plane. The plane had no fuel or pilot."

He eventually managed to get on a military plane.

"It did not have to end this way. I am disgusted by the lack of any planning by Afghan leadership," Ahmady wrote.

Taliban control of Kabul

Thousands of people mobbed the city's airports trying to flee the group's feared hardline brand of Islamist rule, as the government’s final stronghold crumbled under the weight of Taliban fighters.

At least five people died at Kabul airport in their desperate attempts to flee the country.

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President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday night as the insurgents encircled the capital and captured the city in 10 days.

"The Taliban have won with the judgement of their swords and guns, and are now responsible for the honour, property and self-preservation of their countrymen," Ghani said after fleeing.

Government forces collapsed without the support of the US military, which invaded in 2001 after the September 11 attacks and toppled the Taliban for its support of Al-Qaeda.

But the US ultimately failed to build a democratic government capable of withstanding the Taliban, despite spending billions of dollars and providing two decades of military support.

US President Joe Biden reiterated his support for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, as the international community - including the United Nations - condemned the Taliban and European ministers scheduled crisis talks.