Afghanistan one year after the US withdrawal
ON 15 August 2021, the American forces and their allies stunned the world with their speedy and disorganized exit from Afghanistan after their attempts to defeat the Taliban and prevent them from taking control ever again.
Immediately after the shameful defeat of the Americans the Taliban leader Mullah Baradar boasted loudly “The Islamic Emirate brought the world super power and its allies to their knees and Afghans gained their independence”.
There is no doubt about the fact that the world superpower was indeed brought to its knees the American stalled Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani high tailed it out of the country, the rag tag army of the Taliban occupied Kabul and established their writ all over the country.
The Taliban victory was celebrated by the then Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan when he said the Taliban “have broken the shackles of slavery” and appealed to the world community to recognize the Taliban government but so far not a single country in the world has recognized the brutal obscurantist regime of the Taliban.
The Taliban celebrated their victory in front of the US embassy in Kabul and announced that the people of Afghanistan are now really and truly independent and they have liberated themselves from the clutches of foreign powers.
The world awaits with abated breath to see how the Taliban victory has made any difference in the life of the common people of Afghanistan or if they are in any way better off today under the Taliban rule.
Ironically Afghanistan is back to square one. The Taliban are back again and Afghanistan is once again in their brutal obscurantist grip with their archaic, draconian and cruel laws.
The USA invested about two trillion dollars to turn Afghanistan into a modern, democratic and progressive state but they failed miserably to achieve their objectives just as they had failed in Vietnam many decades ago.
The Taliban once again established their government on the basis of the rule of Sharia exactly on the pattern dictated by their founder Mullah Omar that prevailed in Afghanistan during 1996-2001.
The terms and conditions of the Doha Accord were blatantly violated as Afghan women were deprived of their fundamental rights and Ayman Al-Zawahiri the head of Al-Qaeda was provided sanctuary.
The Pakistani Taliban were also given safe havens in Afghanistan from where they continued their armed attacks against Pakistan.
One year after taking control of the country the Taliban regime is still unable to control the severely complicated and unsettled conditions.
They face a severe economic crisis and their ruthless crackdown on all voices of dissent is pushing the country into a dangerous phase of conflict and crisis.
According to a French news agency on completion of one year of the Taliban regime some Afghan women protested in front of the Ministry of Education in Kabul and shouted slogans “work and freedom” they were brutally dispersed by firing in the air and those who refused to leave were beaten with rifle butts.
Zholia Parsi an organization of Afghan women who had organized this protest claimed “they dispersed girls, tore our banners, confiscated mobile phones, and were merciless” They added “If the Taliban want to silence this voice it is not possible” In spite of the solemn undertakings and promises to the world community the Taliban government has implemented all the rules and draconian laws of the previous regime of Mullah Omar.
Women are not allowed to travel without a male relative, girls not permitted to attend school beyond the primary level, a strict segregation of males and females in public has been imposed.
Women are 50% of the population of the country and they have been excluded from public offices and banned from attaining any form of gainful employment.
Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Alhunzada has ordered women to fully cover themselves in public including their faces according to the interpretation of Sharia Law.
Afghanistan under the US backed Hamid Karzai or Ashraf Ghani was not an ideal democracy but it did not suffer the Taliban archaic and backward form of governance, there was some semblance of freedom and respect for human rights and the rights of women.
The Taliban government. In Kabul does not believe in any constitution, political pluralism or equality of all citizens and they are not accountable to the people.
They are back in power because of the failure of the Americans and the NATO forces and the breakdown of the corrupt Ashraf Ghani government.
One year after capturing power the Taliban government is still desperately trying to be accepted as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan and yet it wants to run the country like a country in the Middle Ages and far from the requirements of the modern world.
As a result of their brutal repression thousands of Afghans who felt threatened by their government have already left the country but the majority of the people numbering over 40 million do not have the means or the resources to leave the country.
Only and only if the people of Afghanistan rise up against the Taliban to end the violence, conflict, corruption and repression we can hope for a better tomorrow for the people of Afghanistan.
—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.