Over two years since the Taliban defeated the US occupation and led Afghanistan out of twenty years of brutal war, the world is attentively watching the condition of the country under new leadership and sovereignty.
Despite uncertainty around the governance of the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), economic conditions following international sanctions, and prevailing social issues, Afghanistan may be beginning to find a sense of ease after severe hardship.
Overcoming financial insecurity
In 2021, Afghanistan was hit with an economic crisis following the hasty withdrawal of NGOs, international aid, and sanctions imposed by the international community.
Nation states like the US decided to impose a collective punishment on the people of Afghanistan due to geo-political frictions with the IEA. A key example of this was freezing $9.5bn worth of the country’s foreign currency reserves.
These sanctions came despite statistics which indicated that 97 per cent of Afghanistan’s population were at risk of being below the poverty line, at risk of extreme famine, and increasing levels of unemployment amongst breadwinners.  
Despite the obstacles, recent statistics published by The Economist reveal economic and law enforcement improvements, as seen across the board. 
Some key examples of improving conditions
- Increased crackdown on smuggling and controlled monitoring of money-transfer schemes to avoid corruption, contributing to the stabilisation of the Afghani which is only 7 per cent lower against the dollar than it was a day before the end of the US occupation.
- Significant increase in recorded exports and customs revenues, due to tight controls at the border. Revenues for the year ending March 2023 were $2.3bn, up by 10 per cent on the year ending March 2021.
- Street vendors are now placed in designated areas.
- Drug addicts have been taken off the streets and placed into rehabilitation centres.
- The proportion of bribery from businesses towards customs officials has dramatically decreased from 62 per cent to a modest 8 per cent.
- The IEA have raised enough revenues to pay 800,000 government employees.
- The cost of building projects has fallen by more than 50 per cent, due to the removal of private security fees. 
Prevailing socio-economic issues
Food shortages, loss of jobs, restrictions on education
Much of the Western media has failed to showcase the improvements in peace and security after Afghanistan’s liberation from twenty years of war and occupation. This is why it is important that we acknowledge these positive developments in order to paint a more accurate picture of what is happening on the ground.
Saying this, the country is not without its difficulties. Despite economic progress, there is a great shortage of funds with millions being cut from food aid. Indeed, the World Food Programme has warned that food distributions are going to dramatically drop to zero by the end of this month. 
In addition, The Economist has reported statistics from the UN which estimate that since the country’s liberation, 700,000 people have lost their jobs, with middle-class families employed in sectors that are most dependent on foreign support to have been hit the hardest. 
Furthermore, increasing concerns over women and girls’ ability to seek an education became prevalent after a temporary ban was put in place on female education until schools could be run in accordance with the country’s religious and cultural principles.
The UN estimates that 80 per cent of Afghanistan’s 2.5m school-age women and girls are not being educated. These measures have been demoralising to both men — who want their daughters to receive an education — and women, who have been directly impacted by the changes.
Disagreement on the education of women and girls is widespread even amongst members of the IEA government, who have been butting heads over the decision. However, under the governance structure of the IEA, the decision ultimately lies with the Amīr, Hibatullah Akhundzada. 
Future of Afghanistan
Trying to critically analyse a nation which has endured such unique hardship and circumstances should come with a sense of empathy and a desire to understand the context of such a place.
The rural-urban divide is not the same as that which we are familiar with, hence the governance and social structures of the West or even much of the colonised East cannot be replicated in a country trying to rebuild after forty years of war and foreign occupation.
Aren’t we responsible for Afghan Muslims?
Our responsibility to the people of Afghanistan is no different to our responsibility to other Muslims across the globe.
For too long, our brothers and sisters have had to endure hardship with little global support from Muslims, particularly the Muslim community in the West — who have been psycho-socially impacted by the post-9/11 and ‘War on Terror’ narrative.
Many of us have grown up seeing the Muslim identity targeted in the media, and the global securitisation and criminalisation of religious expression which has created a community that feels a need to censor themselves from speaking up against global injustices.
For twenty years, Western media portrayed Afghanistan as a barbaric nation in need of saving; the propaganda was so strong that we simply could not see the sheer injustice of a $2.313tn war that took the lives of 243,000 Afghans. This estimated figure is likely much less than the actual. 
And these numbers do not account for the hundreds and thousands of Afghans who lost their lives due to disease, poor infrastructure, and mental and physical illnesses that were secondary impacts of the occupation.
It is also relevant to highlight the recent statistics released by Brown University which revealed that post-9/11 conflicts have resulted in more than 4.5 million deaths across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen. 
Challenge the narrative, fight preconceptions!
With the above in mind, I encourage the community to take a deeper look into our preconceived notions about a people or a place, and to challenge our own ingrained ideas.
By doing so, we will take a step closer to being objectively critical.
We should ask ourselves,
What are our standards or criteria of success? Where does this criteria come from?
Our hearts are with the whole Ummah, and its success is with Allah. We pray faith prevails in the hearts of Muslims around the globe, and that we are able to unify and aid each other towards goodness.