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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1943. The Near East and Africa

Afghanistan,   pp. 20-63 PDF (16.3 MB)

Page 20

890H.50/8: Telegram
  The Minister in Afghanistan (Engert) to the Secretary of State
                                  KABUL, January 27, 1943-9 a. m.
                                [Received January 29-9: 38 a. m.]
  18. Supplementing my telegram 17, January 26, 11 p. m.1 I should
like to point out that the general economic outlook in Afghanistan is
extremely gloomy and her entire economic structure is undergoing a
very severe strain. Repercussions of the war on economic conditions
are rapidly diminishing national prosperity and have caused such a
scarcity of goods and such an increase in price levels that a serious set-
back to Afghanistan's progress has become apparent.
  There are no reliable figures regarding the national wealth nor
accurate computations of the national income and the Afghans have
only the most rudimentary notions of international commerce and
hardly of political economy. But they feel that as innocent by-
standers in this war they have to suffer a good deal even if they realize
that many of their difficulties and losses have been hidden.
Afghanistan is economically a poor country and the people have be-
come inured to living from hand to mouth but the closing of all
overseas markets to merchant ships and the cessation of most imports
has caused great hardships to all classes as few of the inhabitants are
even moderately rich.
  There are several important reasons why we and the British have
a distinct interest in preventing the economic plight of Afghanisthn
from deteriorating too far.
  1. In the first place there is increasing uneasiness among the poorer
classes who not only find it difficult to feed and clothe themselves but
are unable to obtain medical treatment because of the dearth of medi-
cines of all kinds. This stimulates political discontent and is causing
a considerable amount of criticism of the Government. And any
weakening of the present regime would react unfavorably upon the
Allied war effort in the Middle East and in India.
  2. The Axis Legations and native elements beholden to them are
exploiting this mounting popular dissatisfaction by spreading reports
that the bad economic situation is entirely due to British, American
and Soviet greed and selfishness which is bound to strangle
  'Not printed.

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