Afghanistan's ghost soldiers undermined fight against Taliban - ex-official

# 10 November 2021 14:21 (UTC +04:00)

Afghanistan's ex-finance minister has blamed the government's fall on corrupt officials who invented "ghost soldiers" and took payments from the Taliban, APA reports citing BBC.

Khalid Payenda told the BBC that most of the 300,000 troops and police on the government's books did not exist

He said phantom personnel were added to official lists so that generals could pocket their wages.

The Taliban rapidly seized control of Afghanistan in August, as US forces withdrew after 20 years in the country.

Mr Payenda, who resigned and left the country as the Islamist group advanced, said records showing that security forces greatly outnumbered the Taliban were incorrect.

"The way the accountability was done, you would ask the chief in that province how many people you have and based on that you could calculate salaries and ration expenses and they would always be inflated," he told the BBC's Ed Butler.

The former minister said the numbers may have been inflated by more than six times, and included "desertions [and] martyrs who were never accounted for because some of the commanders would keep their bank cards" and withdraw their salaries, he alleged.