Taliban easily won Afghanistan because 300,000-strong army did not exist: Ex-finance minister

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Nov 11, 2021, 08:59 AM(IST)

File photo: Afghan army Special Forces take part in a military exercise in Rishkhur district outside Kabul. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Khalid Payenda said most of the 300,000-strong army and police officers did not exist and that generals added the phantom personnel to official lists so they could take their wages.

Afghanistan's former finance minister blames hundreds of thousands of "ghost troops" for allowing Kabul to fall into Taliban hands after the United States removed all military personnel from the nation.

Khalid Payenda, who resigned from his job immediately after the Taliban took control in August, told the BBC that corrupt officials created over 300,000 troops and police to pad government books so generals could pocket their salary and receive money from the Taliban.

He claimed that the "ghost troops" existed only on paper.

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Payenda said that documents stating government security numbers large enough to overpower the Taliban were false. 

"The way the accountability was done, you would ask the chief in that province how many people you have and based on that you could calculate salaries and ration expenses and they would always be inflated," he said.

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Payenda said that certain commanders would hold bank cards of people who were never found in order to steal their pay.

He speculated that the figures may have been exaggerated by more than six times.

The ex-finance minister made the "ghost" assertion for the first time in September, telling Afghanistan Analysts Network that military figures were "all a fraud."

He calculated that Afghanistan had 40,000 to 50,000 soldiers at most. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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