- A Kabul restaurant owner has finally closed his business after struggling under Taliban rule for months.
- Laziz Mahal was underperforming as many Afghans can’t afford to eat out anymore.
- With the Taliban in control, the owner said authorities show no support for small businesses.
When the Taliban took over Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, last year, the lives of many Afghans were changed forever.
Girls were forbidden from attending school and women were banned from taking flights without the company of a male relative. Food insecurity has also become a pressing issue. In March 2022, the secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, pledged international support in an attempt to avert a starvation crisis in Afghanistan.
“Without immediate action, we face a starvation and malnutrition crisis in Afghanistan,” Guterres said at a conference.
For Mojeburahman Musleh, the owner of a fast-food restaurant in Kabul, business came to a steady halt under the Taliban rule. Sales at his establishment, Laziz Mahal, dropped 80% and Musleh struggled to pay for the running costs of his business.
The regime change made everything worse for him, he said. But the hardships didn’t stop there.
“We could not bear expenses that were loading down our shoulders every month,” Musleh told Insider. These costs included tax and rent, which had to be paid off even though there was no revenue, he added.
As much as Musleh tried to keep his business afloat, he said he was forced to shut the restaurant down for good this year.
According to Musleh, “nowadays, people can’t afford to eat outside the house.” While walking around Kabul, he said he has noticed a line of beggars begging for a loaf of bread, since the Taliban assumed control.
When Afghanistan was seized by the Taliban, bank withdrawals were severely limited due to a shortage of paper money. Millions of Afghans suffered financially as a result.
A lack of food and vital supplies caused further concerns. Earlier this year, the United Nations said nearly 9 million people are at risk of famine and up to one million children could die from the cold weather conditions and hunger, and in December 2021, World Food Programme reported that 98% of Afghans don’t have enough food to eat.
In addition, per the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 24.4 million people in Afghanistan need immediate humanitarian assistance to survive.
In an attempt to combat the dire conditions, Afghans have resorted to selling their kidneys. Some told Insider they donated a dangerous amount of blood and might be forced to sell their plasma to feed their families. There have also been reports of people selling their children.
In response to the country’s devastation, President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order to release frozen funds worth $7 billion sought by the Taliban. The funds will be split between humanitarian relief in Afghanistan and families of 9/11 victims.
But many ordinary workers continue to face financial problems.
In Mushleh’s case, small businesses were severely hit when the Taliban came into power. “There is no support for small businesses from authorities. They don’t care about your situation.” All the authorities care about is people paying the operating costs, regardless of whether they earning anything or not, according to Musleh.
Musleh said he couldn’t see his business heading in a positive direction in the near future. This forced him to shut up shop entirely and forget the idea of being able to run a business in Afghanistan.
Musleh plans to find a job with a fixed-term contract to support himself, moving forward, but “the future looks gloomy,” he said.