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Coal Crisis on Afghanistan-Pakistan Line

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Pakistan is a country that does not have sufficient natural resources and therefore is an energy importer. It is known that Pakistan imports coal, especially to generate electricity and run industrial establishments. In this sense, the Islamabad administration imported coal from South Africa and Indonesia in the past; It met 75% of its needs from South Africa. However, the Jakarta administration’s stopping of coal exports and the Russia-Ukraine War increased coal prices.

That situation led Islamabad to find new suppliers. In this context, Pakistan tried to import coal from Afghanistan. According to the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum data, there are 113 coal mines in Afghanistan; The country has 850 million tons of coal reserves.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif shared Pakistan’s tendency to import coal from Afghanistan on his social media account. In this context, Sharif announced that his country would increase coal imports from Afghanistan to eliminate the energy shortage, that the payments would be made in rupees, the national currency of Pakistan, and that a committee would be established under the leadership of Pakistani Defense Minister Hodja Asif for this purpose.

Regarding the above imports, Sharif stated that his country could save more than $2.2 billion annually by purchasing coal from Afghanistan.[1] Local sources claim that Pakistan imports 3,000 tons of coal from Afghanistan daily and plans to increase this to 20 thousand tons.[2] As understood from this, the Islamabad administration wants to purchase cheap coal. Afghanistan. The main reason why it brought up making payments in its currency is the use of its national currency in Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s close relations with the Taliban and the fact that it is a neighbor of Afghanistan influenced the choice above. However, the coal issue caused various reactions in the Afghan public. Afghans described the statements of the Prime Minister of Pakistan as a violation of their sovereign rights; He stated that the Taliban Government could not defend the interests of the Afghan people.

As it is known, with the Taliban’s domination of Afghanistan again, the international community has reduced its aid to Afghanistan. However, the United States of America (USA) blocks Afghanistan’s national reserves, making it difficult for Afghanistan to print money. Apart from these, any state or international organization does not recognize the Taliban Government. This situation requires foreign states and companies to invest in Afghanistan, thus making it difficult for him to deal with the Taliban. Afghan people are facing an economic and humanitarian crisis because of the embargoes against the Taliban. Although the Taliban Government stabilizes the value of the Afghan currency through the remittances sent by the international community as humanitarian aid, it sees the exploitation of Afghanistan’s mines as a solution to reduce the pressures of the international community, close the budget deficit and find a solution to the economic and social problems of the people, and is warm to coal exports. The Taliban Ministry of Finance announced that coal was exported to Pakistan worth $16 million in May 2022.[3] )  However, the Taliban took some new decisions after the public reaction. In this context, the Taliban Ministry of Finance increased the price of 1 ton of coal from $90 to $200. It also increased the customs tax on coal by 30%.[4] In addition, the most used coal is not from the Turham Border Gate; Paktiya has announced that it will be exported from Paktika and Hust Border Gates.[5]

The Ministry announced that no agreement has been made with any government on coal export, that coal is sold through the private sector, and that the reason for the increase in prices is the fluctuation in the international market. Taliban officials say that the price of a ton of coal in international markets is 350 dollars.[6] However, Taliban officials do not clearly state whether exports will be realized in rupees. On the other hand, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said at the press conference after the Taliban’s moves that their coal purchases from Afghanistan depended on the decrease in prices.[7]

As a result, Pakistan needs coal, and the Taliban needs financial resources to create jobs for the people. Therefore, it is impossible to say that the issue will be suspended entirely. However, it can be predicted that the public’s sensitivity to Afghanistan will complicate the relations between the two states. Therefore, the parties may try to overcome the abovementioned problem by turning to public diplomacy.

[1] “دستور نخست وزیر پاکستان برای واردات زغال سنگ از افغانستان”, Tasnim News, https://l24.im/sRQ, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

[2] “پاکستان واردات زغال سنگ از افغانستان را آغاز کرد”, Irib News, https://l24.im/qX13f6n, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

[3] “طالبان قیمت ذغال سنگ صادراتی افغانستان را بیش از دو برابر افزایش دادند”, VOA, https://www.darivoa.com/a/6636480.html, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

[4] “طالبان قیمت ذغال سنگ صادراتی افغانستان را بیش از دو برابر افزایش دادند”, VOA, https://www.darivoa.com/a/6636480.html, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

[5] “صادرات زغال سنگ از راه تورخم ممنوع شد”, Azadiradio, https://da.azadiradio.com/a/31875747.html, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

[6] “طالبان قیمت ذغال سنگ صادراتی افغانستان را بیش از دو برابر افزایش دادند”, VOA, https://www.darivoa.com/a/6636480.html, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

[7] “پاکستان ادامه واردات زغال سنگ از افغانستان را مشروط به کاهش بهای آن کرد”, Azadiradio, https://da.azadiradio.com/a/31929769.html, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

Ahmad Khan DAWLATYAR
Ahmad Khan Dawlatyar, 2013 yılında Kunduz Üniversitesi Hukuk ve Siyaset Bilimi Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Siyaset Bilimi Anabilim Dalı’nda “Türkiye Cumhuriyeti ve Afganistan İslam Cumhuriyeti Anayasalarında Güçler Ayrılığı İlkesi Üzerine Karşılaştırmalı Bir Analiz” başlıklı teziyle 2019 yılında almıştır. Çeşitli bilimsel etkinliklere katılan Dawlatyar, Afganistan sorunuyla ilgili bildiriler ve makaleler sunmuştur. Bu kapsamda “Afganistan Sorununun Dini ve İdeolojik Nedenleri” başlıklı sunumu yayınlanmıştır. Halihazırda Ankara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. ANKASAM bünyesinde yürütülen çalışmalara katkıda bulunan Ahmad Khan Dawlatyar’ın başlıca çalışma alanları Afganistan ve Pakistan’dır. Dawlatyar, anadil seviyesinde Farsça, Özbekçe, Türkçe ve Peştunca dillerine hakimdir. Ayrıca orta düzeyde İngilizce bilmektedir.