- One year on, has anything changed in Afghanistan?
- The answer is Yes.
The Taliban which took over Afghanistan by forcing the withdrawal of US forces has unveiled its brutal face for the world to see. With its recent actions like banning women from universities and public executions, the Taliban rulers have brought down the castles built around ideas of ‘liberal’ Taliban regime.
On August 15, 2021, as the US forces were forced to withdraw, Kabul was seized by the Islamists. Taliban had earlier ruled, as they call it, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Taliban itself claimed that it has changed, probably evolved, since it was last in power in the 1990s. The Talibani leaders started appearing on television, neatly dressed and spoke eloquently, in order to appeal to the international community.
The group was successful in making almost the entire world believe that Taliban 2.0 is evolved and indeed is a moderate version of Taliban, which promised an inclusive regime. The world believed that the same would reflect in their policies, and the ones recalling the brutality of the regime were sidelined.
Taliban reverses to its roots
Although it was publicised that Taliban 2.0 would be moderate and inclusive, the group has itself unveiled its ugly face for the world to see. On December 20, the Taliban banned women from universities. The ban followed with the announcement of Taliban’s Education Minister Nida Mohammad Nadim. Despite drawing criticism from all quarters, the Taliban had defended the decision by stating that the institutions were allowing genders to mix freely and subjects ‘violating the principles of Islam’ were being taught.
It was also said that female students attending universities were not following instructions of hijab and dressed as if they were going for a wedding. The announcement sent a shock wave across the nation as the Taliban had already banned secondary education for girls. The regime has also barred women from working in local and international humanitarian organisations. The women are not allowed in parks and gyms or to travel alone. Strict dress code is also made copulsory and with each passing day public flogging and lashing is becoming a norm.
Taliban’s brutality to rise in the future
In December this year, the Talibani regime carried out its first public execution. A man accused of stabbing another man in the year 2017 in Farah province was executed. Post which, Taliban’s supreme spiritual leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada has instructed the courts to announce strict punishments as per Sharia Law. In the past few months, the courts in Afghanistan have directed public lashing of several men and women for committing adultery.
Taliban has been very clear with its objective of establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with strict interpretation of Sharia Law and no elections.
Will it be easy for the Taliban to take over the public administration?
Well, in the age of digitalisation and globalisation it doesn’t seem so.
Since the day armed Talibani soldiers marched into Kabul, the masses have utilised social media channels for speaking truth to the world. This can be the reason why the Taliban has kept itself busy with establishing its iron fist rule in the times when Afghanistan is suffering from one of the most severe humanitarian crises of the modern times. However, the way Taliban has traced its steps backwards, the regime is only expected to go more brutal in the times to come.
Afghans in the crosshair
Taliban takeover has only worsened the nation’s economy, which was already in shambles for the past few decades due to permanent war. As per the World Bank, the cessation of foreign aid has harmed the nation as it amounted to 45 per cent of its GDP. After the fall of Kabul, the US froze nearly $9.5 billion in reserves belonging to the Afghan central bank and also stopped shipments of cash. More than half of the population has plunged into poverty and the people of Afghanistan are starving without food by a government they did not choose.
The women being at the most disadvantageous condition, being banned from the universities, lashed out in public, barred from working, abducted, raped and tortured. This year in July, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan issued a report highlighting civilian casualties, restrictions on women’s rights and freedom of speech, extrajudicial killings and persecution of ethnic minorities.
All the efforts to lure the international community with an extensive PR are not working for Taliban. The neighbours are also engaging with Taliban very consciously, due to concerns about transnational militant groups operating from Afghan soil. The UNSC had itself said in July that ISIS-K views Afghanistan as a base for expansion in the wider region, toward realising its goal of a “great caliphate”.
The ongoing brutalities are giving birth to a catastrophic humanitarian crisis which is all set to lead Afghanistan on the path of slow collapse.