Taliban leader abolishes pension system in Afghanistan

Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s leader, has directed the group’s military and civilian sectors to cease pension or retirement deductions from employees’ monthly salaries this week.

This move is seen as effectively dismantling the pension system for civil servants, leaving them without entitlements upon retirement.

The directive issued to the Taliban Ministry of Finance calls for an immediate stop to retirement pay deductions for both civilian and military staff from Hamal/April of the fiscal year 1403. Taliban finance officials have confirmed the directive, indicating the end of pension provisions.

Additionally, the order requires the Ministry of Finance to report on all military and civil servant details, including appointment dates, service duration, and pension amounts.

Despite the return of the Taliban, the issue of unpaid salaries for over 140,000 pensioners remains unresolved, with no decision made to date.

Around 150,000 retired officers have been awaiting their pensions for over two years, leading to multiple protests over the suspension of payments.

Last year, a Taliban mufti delegation reviewed a proposal for disbursing retired government employees’ salaries for Sharia compliance. This proposal was then forwarded to Kandahar for Akhundzada’s approval.

Although Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claimed that legal issues surrounding pension payments had been resolved and that disbursements would commence shortly, this recent mandate marks the first official cessation of Afghanistan’s pension system.

Afghanistan’s retirement criteria include reaching 65 years of age or completing 40 years of government service.

The precise number of eligible pensioners remains uncertain, though past reports from the Ministry of Finance cited approximately 152,000 individuals from 119 departments as pension-eligible.

Last year, the Taliban’s Finance Ministry allocated 4 billion Afghanis for pension payments, a plan which Akhundzada did not sanction at the time.

The latest decree did not elaborate on the reasons for abolishing the pension system, but there is speculation that some Taliban officials have questioned the pensioners’ rights under their interpretation of Islamic Sharia.