Taliban conquered Afghanistan because most of their army did not EXIST

The Taliban easily conquered Afghanistan because corrupt officials INVENTED ‘ghost soldiers’ so they could pocket their wages – and most of their 300,000-strong army did not EXIST

  • Ex-finance minister Khalid Payenda said officials added phantom personnel
  • Some of these included ‘desertions’ and ‘martyrs’ who were not in the army
  • They were added to official lists so generals could take their wages, he claimed
  • He claimed some officials accepted their wages and payment from the Taliban

Afghanistan’s ex-finance minister has claimed the Taliban easily conquered the country because corrupt officials invented ‘ghost soldiers’ and took payment from the Islamist group. 

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.

The Afghan government collapsed in August as Taliban fighters rapidly took control of the country, while US and coalition forces were withdrawing after 20 years. 

Mr Payenda said the inflated numbers included ‘desertions’ and ‘martyrs’ because commanders often kept their bank cards and withdrew money.

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

He claimed the troop numbers may have been inflated by as much as six times and said it was incorrect to suggest security forces outnumbered the Taliban.

He told the BBC: ‘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.’

Mr Payenda left Afghanistan and resigned as finance minister as the Taliban made large gains in the country. 

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has previously said that neither the US or the Afghans knew the true number of troops and police. 

Mr Payenda also claimed some government leaders were accepting their wages, while also taking payments from the Taliban, the BBC reported.

He added: ‘The whole feeling was, we cannot change this.

‘This is how the parliament works, this is how the governors work.

‘Everybody would say the stream is murky from the very top, meaning the very top is involved in this.’

A Taliban stands guard outside the military hospital, a day after bomb blasts and attack by IS militants, in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 3, 2021. Mr Payenda’s comments come as dozens of family members of American soldiers remain trapped in Afghanistan and at the mercy of the Taliban

Mr Payenda agreed to a ‘certain extent’ that there was corruption in the finance ministry, but ‘absolutely not’ when it came to these issues. 

It comes as dozens of family members of American soldiers remain trapped in Afghanistan and at the mercy of the Taliban more than two months after the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from the country.

Those stranded include children, siblings and parents of US service members, as well as more than 100 extended family members. 

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