Afghanistan under the Taliban |By Tariq Aqil 


Afghanistan under the Taliban

FLAGS of the Taliban are once again flying from the ramparts of Kabul and Afghanistan is once again in the brutal grip of the Taliban.

This movement is a predominantly Pashtun, Islamic, obscurantist and fundamentalist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 when a US-led invasion toppled the regime for providing refuge to Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

The Taliban under their supremo Mullah Omar regrouped across the border and in remote mountainous regions of Afghanistan and led an insurgency against the US backed overnment in Kabul for nearly twenty years.

In 2020 the Taliban signed a peace agreement with the USA and stared a power sharing negotiations with the Afghan Government led by Ashraf Ghani but very little progress could be made.

In the meantime the US started a withdrawal of its forces as a part of the deal, the Taliban launched an offensive against the Afghan forces and with lightning speed captured city after city culminating in the conquest of the capital Kabul.

The Taliban are now firmly in control of the country but their future form of government or their relations with the world community has still not been spelt out in black and white.

The country is still in the grip of panic and uncertainty with thousands of Afghans trying to leave the country by whatever means possible and some of them even losing their lives in these reckless attempts.

A three-member team has been formed as the committee to negotiate with the Taliban for forming an all-inclusive Government.

Former President Hamid Karzai, Gulbadin Hekmatyar, and Abdulla Abdulla are the members of this team and they are supposed to be forming a coordinating council to prevent chaos and reduce the suffering of the people and to better manage the affairs related to peace. It is not known if this means forming an interim govt or handing over power to the Taliban.

In different statements the Taliban have so far rejected any idea of an interim Government and want power to be handed over to them immediately.

Total Taliban control will definitely result in a complete shake up of Afghan society and questions of human rights, rights of religious minorities and relations with Pakistan and the rights of women will have to be answered by the new Taliban Government in Kabul.

Freshta Karim, founder and director of the Charmaghz mobile library spoke to news reporters from Kabul and she describes a deadly silence there “as if music of people’s lives has stopped, and they are just waiting for their uncertain future, for politicians to decide what will happen” according to her “War against women is at the core of the group’s ideology and identity and she is skeptical if that will change.

According to Karim in the last twenty years there’s been flourishing of music, poetry and women employment she notes that half the population of Afghanistan is below 15 years old and have grown up with liberal values and it appears that the Taliban will take them back to the medieval archaic age of ancient Afghanistan.

The first Government of the Taliban was a disaster and a horror story. They imposed a draconian and harsh brand of justice drawn from Pashtun tribal code and interpretations of Islamic Sharia colored by the austere Wahhabi doctrines taught by the Islamic Madaris. The regime neglected social services, human rights and rights of women.

It forced women to wear head to toe Burqa, Music was banned, Television was not allowed, female education was forbidden and men were jailed for not keeping beard.

The international community was horrified by the rule of the Taliban and only three countries that is Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE recognized this government.

It is being said that the Taliban of today are not the Taliban of 1996 but it should not be forgotten that the Afghanistan of today is not the same as the Afghanistan of 1996.

The Taliban are victorious as they were in 1996, the war has ended and as announced by the Taliban Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid the real job of running the country begins and that is not a simple matter.

The form or design of the new Taliban Government is still not known but Pakistan has every right to be wary of these developments.

The Pakistani Taliban and other fundamentalist groups in Pakistan are now invigorated and emboldened.

After the sad and tragic attack on the Army public school in Peshawar and the launch of the crackdown on the TTP in South and North Waziristan terrorism was controlled and contained to a great degree but with the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan we can expect a definite spike in terrorist activities in the country.

The ideology and philosophy of the TTP and the Afghan Taliban is the same and the TTP is supported and aided by the Afghan Taliban.

Imran Khan has always been an unofficial spokesman of the Taliban in favor of talking to them and listening to their point of view. Pakistan has argued that Taliban are the best option for Afghanistan. Now the world community says you got what you wanted now deliver.

—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.

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