The future of Afghanistan
SINCE the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine Afghanistan and the Taliban regime in control of the government there has been put on the back burner.
Major powers of the world especially the USA are now suffering from the onset of fatigue regarding the political conditions in Afghanistan.
The USA along with some allied countries has been directly involved in Afghanistan for about twenty years beginning with their knee jerk reaction in October 2001 to 30 August 2021.
Before that the USA, Saudi Arabia Pakistan and many NATO countries were directly or indirectly involved with the war in Afghanistan from the start of the Soviet occupation in1979 to 1989 till the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from that country.
The involvement in Afghanistan took a staggering toll of lives and money.
According to figures available today 2448 American servicemen lost their lives and about 3846 others working as contractors for the American government 66000 Afghan Soldiers died and 46000 civilians were killed.
Thousands more were wounded and disabled.
Despite very determined efforts by the US and its allies and the massive help given to the Ashraf Ghani regime the Taliban finally emerged as the winner in this brutal and gruesome war and finally established their writ over the entire country.
After the Taliban takeover in Kabul Imran Khan the then Pakistani PM announced jubilantly that the Taliban “Have broken the shackles of slavery” Political support and economic assistance was promised by the Imran Khan regime but the world community has so far refused to believe what the Pakistani leadership thinks that the Taliban are God’s gift to the Afghans and so far not a single country of the world has recognized the Taliban government in Kabul.
The Taliban leaders have refused to show any flexibility in their obscurantist and extremist way of thinking, particularly regarding girl’s education and condition of women.
Their attitude has resulted in many sanctions imposed by the US and European Union barring them from receiving humanitarian aid from the UN member countries of the world.
Ten months after their victory the Taliban regime today is politically isolated, economically it is sanctioned and not recognized by any country even its neighbors including Pakistan and China.
Afghanistan today is embroiled in huge drugs and security problems.
The state of the economy is pretty dismal and trade can only improve after the economy is stabilized but there are no signs of that happening in the near future.
Over 65 per cent of the population is below the poverty line and now they face severe food shortages, mass hunger and a famine like situation looms large on the horizon.
The incompetent government in Kabul has brought immense suffering and hardships for the people under their rule but they continue to show defiance and are not prepared to show any leniency in their strict code of sharia laws and the Islamic code of conduct.
In spite of their earlier promises to allow women’s education and respect human rights they have reneged on all their previous promises and undertakings.
Women in Afghanistan are denied the right to education and employment.
All women have to be covered from head to toe when leaving their house and girls are not permitted to go to school.
The Taliban leaders have decided to remain isolated and have the minimum possible contact with the outside world.
They may or may not have broken the shackles of slavery but they have proved themselves to be incapable of being recognized as normal and civilized members of the world community.
They fervently believe that human rights and women’s rights are alien concepts and they insist on strict seclusion of women along with denial of education to their female members of society.
The Taliban leadership believes that their entire struggle was for the establishment of a state based on the Sharia laws and there can be no compromise on that issue.
Instead of education, health and economic welfare they are more concerned about the length of beards and the segregation of women.
Afghanistan today is an ideological island cut off from the civilized world and they are bent upon following an agenda in conformity with their extremist and retrogressive way of thinking.
In the early days of their control they posed and pretended to change their old ways but this façade was very short lived and today they have proved that they are incapable of behaving like normal civilized human beings.
It is very obvious that the rulers of Afghanistan will not be able to maintain such an outdated isolationist policy for long.
Today the Afghan economy is hardly capable of sustaining more than fifty percent of the population.
It is also expected that the people of Afghanistan men and women who have tasted power and freedom after the fall of the Mullah Omar regime will one day rise up to claim their rights and this could plunge the country into another bloody civil war.
Today Pakistan does not have the level of influence over the Taliban that it once had, but the world community expects Pakistan to make them respect fundamental human rights and to deny terrorist organizations the use of Afghan territory.
—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.