Afghanistan under Taliban: New rulers think and act much differently

Picture source - AFP via Getty Images
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Afghanistan, an independent sovereign nation but now a war-torn country, for one reason or the other, had been dictated and commanded by aliens, particularly by Americans, for two decades and ever since now the foreigners have gone off, Afghanistan is quite naturally struggling to put back all the logistics to rule the country under many odd conditions which, as such under the given situation, is quite a daunting and gigantic task to successfully accomplish to be honest simply because the new rulers Taliban think and act much differently than what is being practiced elsewhere. They have many fronts to tackle because within Afghanistan they have those who oppose Taliban so they are to be tamed while outside Afghanistan, all countries in general and the West in particular must recognize the new rulers which is not that easy in any case.

American soldiers, who had been there for as many as twenty years, had lot of different items in Kabul and other cities and ever since it was not an easy task for them to take back everything to USA and therefore in retribution, they have very much regretfully and deliberately destroyed maximum items being left behind including aircrafts, vehicles and fighting gear so that nothing can now be used by Taliban who are not familiar with many of these items in any case. The incumbent rulers, led by Abdul Ghani Baradar and Anas Haqqani believed to be die hard ‘fanatic’ Muslims, who have their own typical logic, perception and interpretation which is not so common in other countries of the world and, therefore, at times it is noticed that their approach is much too different than what is being practiced elsewhere. But yet it is very much anticipated and believed that in due course of time, Taliban, shall have to shun extremism and be relaxed to follow as to what is commonly professed and practiced in other countries.

In their first press conference after taking over the control, the Taliban announced that ‘no grudges, no revenge’ but the hard truth is that such like words are more academic than practical in its real spectrum. Earlier, Taliban have ruled the country and everyone, be elite or ordinary citizen, men and women and therefore Afghans very well know as to who Taliban are, what is their mentality, approach and life style etc simply because they have crafted their own logistics and rules to govern the country which in most cases do not match with the standardized international practices applied in elsewhere. They had left behind very bitter experience when they ruled Afghanistan and, hence, it is very much feared that now also it will not be much different than what Afghans at the hands of Taliban had already experienced in the past.

The worst part is that Taliban are not tuned to reasoning and logic and, instead, they enforce whatever comes to their mind without caring the least as to what other nations will say about them. They are too thick headed and are ignorant of human rights and liberties, particularly about womenfolk. Most of them have lived in caves who are completely ignorant of civilized society and they strictly believe in crude, shrewd tribal traditions and practices and consequently they are too rough and tough so far as ruling the country is concerned. Then, on the top of it, there are many drug lords as well who have their own style and logistics which necessarily does not match with the approach of cave residents and consequently their conflict of interests jeopardizes ruling system in Afghanistan.

The day Taliban entered Kabul, thousands of men, women and children, who had undergone the terrible experience before, fearing of their lives, left their houses and instead marched towards Kabul Airport in a desperate attempt to flee from Afghanistan so that they are not caught by Taliban but as the bad luck had it, only few hundreds could succeed in moving out to other countries. Unfortunately, while thousands were still at airport or near airport and waiting for the golden opportune to fly off, some daring devil hurled bombs at the crowd whereby 13 US servicemen and around 200 others were killed while a lot had been injured as well. Many Afghans, who were nicely educated and experienced in their respective fields have already fled from Afghanistan because they felt that since their approach is different than what Taliban practice and hence they felt that they may be targeted now by Taliban so better to leave the country and be somewhere else so that they are able to continue working in their own specialization. But such like brain drain is too much detrimental to the national cause of Afghanistan but what to do otherwise.

They have stopped girls and women to go to schools, colleges and universities and instead advised them to remain inside their houses. In some exceptional cases, now classrooms have been partitioned in half in a manner that men and women who during pre-Taliban period were studying together are now separated instead whereby only the teacher can see both men and women while teaching a class. Womenfolk are almost 50% of the population and it is really too tragic to deprive them the right of education. Afghan ladies, who were working in different organizations and supporting their dependents have now been barred to go to their jobs is too cruel on part of Taliban and such womenfolk will now have to face nothing than starvation.

Taliban twice have announced their cabinet ministers but on both occasions, no woman has been inducted as minister itself proves in quite crystal clear terms that they are very much anti womenfolk otherwise at least one, if not more, woman must have been appointed as ministers but very much regretfully no woman is inducted though twice the incumbent rulers have announced their cabinet of ministers itself proves that now womenfolk do not have any future and prospect in Afghanistan like before which is not only very much regretted but condemned as well. Ladies’ saloons and beauty parlors which were earlier very much popular and operative in almost all the cities and towns are now totally banned and all such facilities are shut down. Bridal wear and ladies’ photos at the hair cutting saloons are painted black by Taliban while many parlor owners have themselves removed ladies’ photos so that Taliban do not attack these places. Whatever money were spent by women on running ladies’ saloons and beauty parlors is now drained and the ladies who owned them fail to grip with the changed situation and they have no option but to just curse their own fate for none of their fault.

Some women gathered and demonstrated in the streets demanding that women must not be coerced alike where they are neither allowed to study nor allowed to work, which as such, has barricaded them within the four walls of their houses. They chanted the slogans demanding human rights which is guaranteed by even United Nations but Taliban took it as insult to them and, therefore, the lady demonstrators were attacked with tear gas and pepper spray instead to disperse and dislodge the protests. As regards men’s saloons, Taliban have issued strict instructions that now simple hair cut is allowed and the barbers shall be punished if they cut stylish hair which was allowed previously. Furthermore, Taliban have also told all the barbers that under the given circumstances, they cannot cut or even trim beard of men but instead the barbers are instructed to tell their men customers that now they are to grow their beard instead.

It must be mentioned that Taliban have very well spread their propaganda much earlier than they took over the control of Kabul this August. They used smart phones all along with their rifle and the hard truth is that Taliban did succeed in propagating their victories to its best advantage. They used Facebook and Twitter announcing their victories in advance as well. They had launched a Pashto-language android all in 2016 very well proves that Taliban knew that media war is a stronger tool so why not their presence be felt on that front and they have succeeded in their attempts. Taliban have not only banned photography, television but internet as well so one can very well imagine as to what can be the life in Afghanistan under Taliban where even sports cannot be played like before unless and until sports are allowed by the incumbent rulers.

Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, chief of prisons who had been a minister in previous set up, has already announced that now Islamic punishments will be introduced like before which means that hands of a thief will be cut and likewise sex offenders will be whipped with lashes. Murderer will also be murdered. However, it is yet to be decided by the rulers if such punishments namely executions and amputations will be carried out in public like before or secretly so that the public cannot watch the punishments. In Herat, four men who had abducted a father and a son were not only arrested but killed as well and their dead bodies were lifted above with cranes in different parts of the city and remained in air for many long hours so that each and every one can see them and be awed not to even think of committing any crime in Afghanistan now. Otherwise, they will meet such like awful, dreadful, horrendous and frightening end.

Lyse Doucet, chief international correspondent, has met cross section of people in Kabul so that she herself knows what are the ground realities? She interviewed and spoke to former government advisers, airline cabin crew, teachers and hairdressers, no name just a few, and it is established that each one of them are scared and they have no idea at all as to what is stored for them except sheer confusion and utter uncertainty. Many of them have shifted to unknown and barren locations so that they cannot be spotted by Taliban. All those who did not shift, are just hiding in their houses so that they cannot be reached by Taliban. Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, had to be in Kabul for three days to personally see what are the ground realities. He, upon completion of his trip, issued a statement saying, the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan remains desperate and if public services and the economic collapse, we will see even greater suffering, instability and displacement, both within and outside the country. Many countries have not recognized Taliban and the incumbent rulers of Afghanistan will be officially recognized but only when they guarantee human rights and liberties and it is very much believed that if not today then tomorrow Taliban shall have to come to terms to be recognized by UN and other countries.

Iqbal Hadi Zaidi is a former diplomat