Afghan FM quits, leaves nation; three more capitals fall to Taliban


fghanistan’s acting finance minister Khalid Payenda has resigned and left the country after the Taliban captured key customs posts bleeding the administration of revenue, reinforcing the government’s isolation as the militants make swift gains.


Payenda has “resigned and left the country because Afghanistan is grappling with declining revenues after the takeover of the custom posts,” Finance Ministry spokesman Mohammad Rafi Tabe said in a phone interview Wednesday. “The deteriorating security situation” and travelling to be with his ailing wife abroad, were the other reasons Tabe gave.


It wasn’t immediately clear where Payenda was going to.


The former minister tweeted Tuesday to say he was quitting his post but gave no reasons for it. The deputy minister for customs and revenues, Alem Shah Ibrahimi, will be in charge until a new appointment is announced. Payenda wasn’t immediately available for comment.


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With US and NATO troops slated for a complete exit by Aug. 31, a resurgent Taliban have overrun several provincial capitals in recent days. The militants have also seized several crucial custom posts causing President Ashraf Ghani’s government to lose as much as $30 million in import duties last month alone. The taxes account for about half of Afghanistan’s total domestic revenues, estimated to be about 216.5 billion Afghanis this year.


Taliban fighters took control of another city in northern Afghanistan on Wednesday, an official said, the eighth provincial capital to fall to the insurgents in six days as US-led foreign forces complete their withdrawal. The Taliban capture of Faizabad, capital of the northeastern province of Badakhshan, came as President Ashraf Ghani flew in to Mazar-i-Sharif to rally old warlords to the defence of the biggest city in the north as Taliban forces close in. Jawad Mujadidi, a provincial council member from Badakhshan, said the Taliban had laid siege to Faizabad before launching an offensive on Tuesday.


“Unfortunately, after hours of heavy fighting the ANDSF retreated,” Mujadidi told Reuters, referring to national security forces. “With the fall of Faizabad the whole of the northeast has come under Taliban control.” Badakhshan borders Tajikistan, Pakistan and China.