Afghanistan’s Literate Population on the Edge of the Precipice

Since the Taliban returned to power on August 15, there have been significant changes in the structure of civilian institutions. In addition to removing women from offices, judges were fired from offices by a decree. Furthermore, the heads of the economic departments in the provinces were left without a salary. A letter was issued stating that the Taliban had fired 34 provincial health directors. The changes and the dismissal of 27 civil servants in Takhar raised concerns about the removal of the skilled workforce from the government body, as local officials in Takhar even sent death letters of alive staff to IDLG so that they could replace them with their own affiliates.

In recent days, there have been many cases of layoffs and hiring in civil offices. The dismissal of 15 employees of the Statistics Office has recently been reacted on social media. The Ministry of Higher Education officials also sent a lengthy list, saying that a large number of the ministry’s specialist staff had been fired and replaced by people close to Taliban members. The employees of the IT department of the 054 Department of the Intelligence Directorate also stated that the keys to the offices were taken from them two months ago and they were in a state of uncertainty. They say they have not received a separate official letter, but have not been allowed to work.

Employees of Herat Municipality announced on Saturday that the mayor of Herat had fired more employees of the department and appointed people close to him in their positions. Civil servants in Samangan’s Du-Ab district protested that although the staff had been in good health, they had been replaced by local Taliban officials. One such case is recruitment in the Afghan Red Crescent Society, where officials have replaced staff from the center to other provinces or, in some cases, for no apparent reason.

The social media pages of Hasht-e Subh is full of messages where people are protesting against the illegal and unprofessional replacement of employees in the offices. These protests are coming from all over the country. Several people send messages every day complaining about what is going on in the civil service. Those who were previously hired on the basis of free competition will be replaced by inexperienced and unskilled people for no apparent reason. The continuation of this process, as well as the recent remarks of the Pakistani Prime Minister regarding the deployment of Pakistani expert staff to Afghanistan, have raised concerns. Unfortunately, the consequence of such systematic shifts is the brain drain, the slowness of the service delivery process, and ultimately the disintegration of the organizational structure of civil institutions.

The Taliban, now in power, have apparently not considered the consequences of such illegal and unprofessional actions. They are still unable to provide services properly. No civilian entity will be able to deliver any service if the experts are removed from the government. Taliban officials should know that the work of the departments is not going on in prayer. The department needs a specialized staff to ensure that services are not paralyzed. If Taliban officials are worried about the future of their own people, they should look for better ways. Elimination of specialized and defenseless staff and hiring inexperienced and unprofessional people are not just principles – not even humane.

Taliban leaders are urging people to stay in the country as they pave the way for the dismissal of specialized staff in government institutions. Literate people first think about for what reason and on what promises to stay. They know that there is no guarantee that they will continue to fulfill their responsibilities to achieve a better future. Worse, illiterate, unprofessional, and inexperienced people replace those who have been educated and worked hard for years. The Taliban must stop eliminating civil servants at various levels. Continuing this work has dangerous consequences and practically sends Afghanistan’s literate population to extinction.