It is double jeopardy for the business community in Ghazni province of war-ravaged Afghanistan. They have been forced to pay double tax, one to the government and the other to the Taliban.
An investigation by TOLOnews has found that the Taliban have been collecting taxes from the business community in Ghazni province over the past six months.
Reports indicate that Taliban officials even take tax from businesspeople in the provincial capital.
Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman has said that the group successfully collected over three million AFs from Ghazni alone this year.
Besides, local officials have said that the Taliban has arrested dozens of locals after they refused to pay tax to the militants.
Ahmad Farid Omari is a local businessman in Ghazni who was forced by the Taliban to pay 200,000 Pakistani rupees in illegal tax. He was initially asked for 400,000 Pakistani rupees in tax. But he managed to convince the Taliban to accept 200,000 rupees.
“Taliban operate just five kilometers from the city which belongs to the capital of Ghazni, Taliban told us to pay the money in that place and said we would receive a slip for the amount paid, but we did not go there to pay the money; Taliban’s men came in from the city who we did not recognize, and we paid the money,” said Omari.
The business community is outraged over the issue, saying they are paying tax both to government and the Taliban.
But the Taliban have said the group collected the tax to ensure the security of trade convoys on the highway.
“No businessmen are left in Ghazni who have not paid the tax, even there are claims that members of the provincial council have also paid the money,” said Hassan Reza Yusufi, secretary of Ghazni provincial council.
“The majority of members of Taliban’s Quetta Shura (council) which is the biggest council in the Taliban leadership are from Ghazni,” said Abdul Karim Mateen, governor of Ghazni province.
Local officials say that from the total of eighteen districts in Ghazni, Nawah, Zankhan, Gero, Ajristan, Gelan, Dahyak, Andar, Waeez and Khogyani are dealing with high-security threats.
Despite the complicated security situation, there are people in Ghazni who are optimistic about their future.