One month after fall of Kabul: Infights, economic crisis stalk Taliban
A month after seizing Kabul, the Taliban face daunting problems, including economic crisis, infightings, as they seek to convert their lightning military victory into a durable peacetime government.
After four decades of war and the deaths of tens of thousands of people, security has largely improved, but Afghanistan's economy is in ruins despite hundreds of billions of dollars in development spending over the past 20 years.
Drought and famine are driving thousands from the country to the cities, and the World Food Programme fears food could run out by the end of the month, pushing up to 14 million people to the brink of starvation.
While much attention in the West has focused on whether the new Taliban government will keep its promises to protect women's rights or offer shelter to militant groups like al Qaeda, for many Afghans the main priority is simple survival.
"Every Afghan, kids, they are hungry, they don't have a single bag of flour or cooking oil," said Kabul resident Abdullah.
Long lines still form outside banks, where weekly withdrawal limits of $200 or 20,000 afghani have been imposed to protect the country's dwindling reserves, reports Reuters.
Impromptu markets where people sell household goods for cash have sprung up across Kabul, although buyers are in short supply.
Even with billions of dollars in foreign aid, Afghanistan's economy had been struggling, with growth failing to keep pace with the steady increase in population. Jobs are scarce and many government workers have been unpaid since at least July.
To make matters worse for the Taliban, a major row broke out between leaders of the Islamist group just days after they set up a new government, senior Taliban officials told the BBC yesterday.
Supporters of two rival factions reportedly brawled at the presidential palace in Kabul. The argument appeared to centre on who did the most to secure victory over the US, and how power was divided up in the new cabinet. The Taliban have officially denied the reports.
The group seized control of Afghanistan last month, and have since declared the country an "Islamic Emirate". Their new interim cabinet is entirely male and made up of senior Taliban figures, some of whom are notorious for attacks on US forces over the past two decades.
The dispute came to light after a Taliban co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, disappeared from view for several days.
One Taliban source told BBC Pashto that Baradar and Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani - the minister for refugees and a prominent figure within the militant Haqqani network - had exchanged strong words, as their followers brawled with each other nearby.
A senior Taliban member based in Qatar and a person connected to those involved also confirmed that an argument had taken place late last week.
The sources said the argument had broken out because Baradar, the new deputy prime minister, was unhappy about the structure of their interim government.
Officials said the Taliban government is working to get services up and running again and that the streets are now safe, but as the war recedes, resolving the economic crisis is looming as a bigger problem.
"Thefts have disappeared. But bread has also disappeared," said one shopkeeper.