After a decade of near double-digit growth, the Afghan economy has stalled in the last two years. The disputed presidential election and the end of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) combat mission, which formally closed on Sunday has caused a slump in the economy. There is a noticeable trend of a flight of capital. As the withdrawal got nearer, investors in Afghanistan moved their money abroad. Research also suggests that unemployment and a weak economy were the biggest concerns for the people of Afghanistan, even more so than insecurity and corruption. The bulk of US aid to Afghanistan has gone into combat operations, not into infrastructure or economic development. This has been a whopping $104 billion.

The Kabul government is expecting income this year of around $1.8 billion dollars — less than even the value of Afghanistan’s opium crop, which feeds the coffers of the Taliban. This is a sad fact that Afghanistan has to face; that its economy is surviving on black. This is unsustainable. A collapse of the opium industry, if it is tackled so that the smuggling and production of dugs is halted, spells economic disaster as well as an angry backlash from the Taliban. This compounded by the problem that without the $8 billion a year in international aid currently guaranteed until at least 2016, the Afghan government is unable to pay the salaries of the 350,000 soldiers and police on the front line of battling the Taliban. The withdrawal leaves the economy in tatters. This is why Afghanistan is so eager for Indian help in sustaining trade.

One saving grace could be Afghanistan’s mineral deposits, including gold, iron and copper, at between one and three trillion dollars. It will take at least ten years to set up a proper mining sector. With rampant political corruption, it is hard to hope of public welfare from these resources. Even with double-digit growth figures, the outlook is not good. These figures are bolstered by international economic aid and even weaker past performance.