Major challenges for Taliban in Afghanistan | By Prof Dr Muhammad Khan

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Major challenges for Taliban in Afghanistan


WITH the departure of last American soldier from Afghan soil on 31 August 2021, the Taliban leadership, their followers and supporters rallied across Afghanistan to celebrate the end of two-decades of foreign invasion.

They also offered Sajda-e-Shukar (Thanking Allah Almighty) over the freedom of their homeland from foreign military presence and occupation.

On the other hand, American President Joe Biden defended his decision of military pull-out from Afghanistan, which ended the conflict.

He said a day’s back, “No nation has ever done anything like it in all of history. Only the United States had the capacity and the will and ability to do it, and we did it today.”

Indeed, it is the US perspective, which no one buys, seeing the horrors of war wherever US invaded since 1950s.

For Taliban, it was a great success which no one, even Taliban had perceived a few years back.

Nevertheless, Taliban are free to form their Government, which they said is in the final stage of formulation and likely to be announced soon.

There are number of challenges, Taliban are likely to confront after formulation of Government.

The most significant challenge for the Taliban Government will be seeking recognition for their rule without conduct of any formal election process through an interimset-up.

On their part, Taliban has denied western type of democracy and election process; rather they will have their own format of the Government. International community may not recognize such a Government.

Even the Theocracy of Iran has an election process for the President and members of Parliament which is generally free and fair.

Taliban must address this significant challenge otherwise there will be constant criticism over their rule and the world will consider them as the unlawful rulers and enforced Government.

Indeed, at this stage, it will not be difficult for Taliban to have a general consensus of masses since more than their strength and popularity, Taliban is a fear which the super could not withstood.

Formulation of all inclusive Government with the representation from all groups, political and religious parties, minorities and women may provide a temporarily reprieve, however, Taliban will have to devise a formal model of election process and formulation of Government in order to reduce the international criticism and formal recognition for the legitimacy of their rule.

The next challenge, indeed the foremost test for the Taliban Government in Afghanistan will be stabilizing the country internally; from the security perspective. For securing the country internally, they will face number of non-state actors.

Al-Qaeda, ISIS (K), Northern Alliance and other splinter militant groups may pose security challenges for the Taliban rule and general security of Afghanistan.

ISIS (K) has already attacked Kabul Airport and surroundings, twice at least after Taliban took over Kabul.

This militant group has its significant presence in Afghanistan posing very grave challenge for Afghanistan, Taliban Government and the neighbouring states of Afghanistan.

In the past, they had the backing from CIA, RAW and Afghan spying network, NDS for two major objectives; countering the Taliban and destabilizing countries like Pakistan and China.

Taliban will have to fight a full-fledged war against them, in order to clear Afghanistan from this terrorist group.

It will not be an easy task, since they still enjoy the support of foreign spying networks as their tool and Taliban are the primary targets of these agencies.

Al-Qaeda is yet another threat to Taliban rule; indeed, this militant Network became a reason for down-fall of Taliban rule in 2001.

There is astrong evidence that all acts of Al-Qaeda have paved the way for the US invasion of Afghanistan and may be that of Iraq, apart from the so-called WMD.

This militant outfit may be keeping its presence and covert activities in Afghanistan to provide an excuse for the destabilization of Taliban Government in future.

Trust building between Taliban and Afghan masses is yet another major challenge for the Taliban to address immediately.

Fear of Taliban may work for some time; it cannot be a remedy for ever. There is an immediate need that Taliban should win the hearts and minds of Afghan masses through their demonstrated positive actions.

The Islamic rule does not mean tyranny and oppression against anyone. Taliban should take cover of Islamic rule for any act, which goes against the spirit of this Great Religion.

Islam is a blessing of Allah for the entire humanity, irrespective of caste and creed, religion and gender. Taliban must allow the women to work as before without any discrimination.

Economy is yet another area, where Taliban needs to concentrate the maximum. Taliban must not close the country like they did from 1996 to 2001.

Internally, there must be freedom of activities in all fields; business and business-related activities without any fear of security.

In the absence of any foreign financial assistance, economy stabilization will be a great challenge for the Taliban. Taliban have welcomed the foreign investment and good relations with international community.

International relations and diplomacy are two areas which Taliban will have to work overnight.

Taliban must get the confidence of their immediate neighbourhood; China, Russia, Central Asian States, Iran and Pakistan.

Establishment of good relationship with the neighbourhood will pave the ground for global recognition and good will for Taliban Government.

Indeed, excellent standards of good governance at home will provide logical ground for good foreign relationship globally.

To be in complete control of Afghanistan and for an acceptable international recognition, Taliban must overcome these challenges sooner than later.

— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

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