Pine nut in Afghanistan Photograph:( WION )
In an exclusive interview with WION's Anas Mallick, Taliban talked about capitalisation of Pine nuts and importance of women workforce in the industry
Pine nuts, popularly known as Afghanistan's 'export gold', are one of the major sources of support for the country's economy, especially at a time like this when the Taliban-controlled nation is grappling for stability.
In an exclusive interview with WION's Anas Mallick, Taliban's Minister for Commerce and Industries Nooruddin Azizi talked about capitalisation of pine nuts, future of women in the industry and the ways in which Taliban is planning to boost the declining economy.
Talking about the importance of capitalising on pine nuts to improve the tottering economy of Afghanistan, Azizi said pine nuts are an important factor of the Afghanistan. "Since Afghanistan is an agriculture country, we have been working hard to make sure that the products are capitalised on and that it reaches its final destination," he said.
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He also claimed that China is not the only country that is looking to invest in this. Pine nuts "are an important part of Afghanistan, and they are extremely crucial. We also want to invest in it and do the marketing — the necessary marketing for it. China is not the only one interested in the product, there are countries such as United Arab Emirates, European countries, Central Asian countries. Pine nuts are involved here and they are interested and we are exporting to them and we would like any interested parties to invest in this," Azizi said.
Taliban have also urged other international governments and organisations to come forward and invest in Afghanistan. "We invite everyone to invest, who is interested in investing in Afghanistan to come forward and we welcome them," Azizi said. "One of the issues previously was the security issue which is now completely solved and there is no issue on that. We guarantee from Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan that we will ensure no security issues happen. We have provided really good opportunities for these investments in the middle and high investment sector, in terms of investment quantity, so we welcome all of them."
He reiterated his guarantee of safety for investors by claiming that violent attacks have declined and have come down to almost zero in the recent days. "If you see the security situation, the security issues have gone down by quite a bit to almost non-existent and that they will be solved to full and that there is no and would not be any security issue for any investment who wants to come here or is here," he claimed.
Half of the workforce in this industry used to comprise of women before Taliban took control of the country. While it was feared that women may not get their jobs back, as reports of women facing unfair restrictions were popping in media, the Taliban minister has declined these rumours.
"The international community only looks and focuses on Kabul only which is not the only part of Afghanistan. Even in Kabul there are organisations and departments where we have women presence available such as medical, education and several other sectors," Azizi started explaining. "However these pine-nuts and some others are coming from other provinces where agriculture is main part of the income and Afghanistan's new government is preparing to make work platform for women to work under Islamic and Traditional Afghan community."
However, he also added that women are not currently involved in picking out the pine nuts from trees as authorities believe it is a hard job which cannot be done by women. Other than that, he claims, women "are currently and practically taking part in the process because this is an extremely sensitive work which can not be done by anybody else so women are taking part in it".
He also opened up about the Tehran summit which was recently held and urged the international communities, especially the neighbouring nations, to come forward and help Afghanistan fight the current economic crisis.
"With regards to the trade and border economy, mostly in Torkham, Islam Qala, Heratan and such border areas – In the last two months that we have been working here - We have brought facilitations to the traders to remove any obstacles that they might have. There are several obstacles obviously and for those obstacles they have, we have created a committee that will solve such issues immediately, without any delay," Azizi said. "One of the issues that we have currently is the increase in the prices of goods and we believe that this mostly, the biggest factor playing here is the international factor that the prices of goods internationally are high."
He also added that countries such as China, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Qatar and United Arab Emirates have provided humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, but added that the Taliban expected more from European countries and the US.
"This is the time for international community to understand that we have an upcoming winter which with it brings issues to people of that area and a lot of people," Azizi urged the western countries. "We would request the international community and the neighbouring countries to again assist us in this and not leave us alone so that we can fight this issue in our country with their assistance."
Taliban minister also admitted that the ground reality of the country's increasing poverty and starvation is very close to the official figures released by the United Nations and other international bodies. "These figures and facts that have been provided by these organizations which have been quoted by you, can obviously not be verified to exact details from ground but it is pretty close to what you quoted and to a certain extent is true," he said.
However, he was quick to add that these problems had existed in the country from the time Taliban were not ruling the country. "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan inherited these issues of poverty and starvation from the previous government," he claimed.
He also blamed the international communities for the decline in country's economy as several western governments have frozen Afghan’s funds. "As you know that these issues we have currently is mostly from and because of the international community because Afghanistan's money is blocked and there are restrictions imposed on Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is again dedicated to provide services to fullest extent by all means meaning all departments are active, all the departments are working and we expect that to get out of these issues," he said.