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Monday, April 15, 2024

Afghan Taliban’s struggle for legitimacy

Since 2001, the central Afghan government and its allies have fought to legitimize authority against the Taliban’s self-styled ‘jihadists.’ Central to this has been the campaign for the hearts and minds of the local population. In fact, it appears that even now, the Taliban in cities are actively trying to construct legitimacy for themselves but the international community seems to have other plans for the newly made government.

Various elements are crucial for the Taliban and their rule in the present condition. So far, the Taliban have worked hard to get worldwide recognition. Labeled as a terrorist organization by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and several other organizations and states, including the US, UN and several other human rights organizations in the wake of the incidents in Afghanistan, has induced complexities vis-à-vis the recognition. They kept a systemized silence and, finally, an expression of sorrow that was not on the scale of the Afghan crisis. Questions emerge here as to what the task of this legitimacy is and, more importantly, why the Taliban want recognition?

While its conduct has not been based on the consent of others. The answer to this question goes back to mastery of the attitude of rule in Afghanistan. Back in history, no actor in Afghanistan has ever gained legitimacy from any country. The players have always been able to gain power with one or more external players, and the Taliban is not unusual. In the 1990s, the Afghan Taliban spare no effort to force other states to recognize their rule because in the mentality of the Afghan society, being legitimized and entering the regional game and globalization is part of the legitimacy of that structure.

Read more: Pakistan’s medical and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan

Islamabad, Riyadh and Abu Dubai were the first states that formally recognized Taliban rule

In the last few years, Afghans have seen a change in their state which began in 2001, the Afghan migrants to other states such as Iran, Pakistan, Central Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The Afghans experienced living in different countries under new rules and norms. Many migrants got higher education, increasing the number of educated people. More than 50,000 scholarships were provided to Afghan students in Pakistan, India, Central Asia, Russia, Iran and other states.

The perception that the Taliban have advanced in an angle where the regime should be recognizable to the people is a need for new demand. Still, the acceptance of ethnic leaders and a religiously spearheaded government has never happened in the past. In the last 20 years, bad governance has been designed in Afghanistan, external troops have been stationed and Afghanistan’s densely populated cities have advanced differently from the 1990s Taliban regime.

The Taliban took power in the 1990s as the Afshari crisis between Gullbadin Hekmatyar and the troops was defeated and large numbers of people were killed. According to data, almost one-half of the country’s population was outside Afghanistan. Still, only a third of Afghanistan’s population resides where other places are trackless, mountainous and unpopulated. And when it was described that the Taliban occupied 54% of Afghanistan, it was an unpopulated part, not the provincial centers, so it did not and still does not have the new living experience, communication and consideration of the new needs of the masses of Afghanistan today.

The institutional crisis predominating in Afghanistan needs tailored approaches and mechanisms under the current circumstances – the Taliban cannot run many civil institutions. The foreign international workforce remains reluctant to work in the country, is unpaid and depends on the presence of foreign forces – and aid – to operate.

Read more: What Pakistan can learn from Afghanistan’s troubled History?

How Taliban is operating in Afghanistan?

The Taliban inevitably have to accept the previous institutions because people’s lives in the big cities depend on government institutions. If they do not do so, they will face people’s resistance. After a few incidents in several cities, the Taliban learned that they were facing a new Afghanistan. First, in Kandahar, the first religious refusal took place in a Sunni and Pashtun area, specifying the people have endorsed a much progressive approach, negating that Sunni and Pashtuns will surely help the Taliban.

Second, the Taliban literature on the type of rule is not acceptable. The third is the view of Islamabad and Beijing – as long as they side with the Taliban, there will be part of social management and control. Another thing about the Taliban regime is that they fear a kind of future reaction which Tehran and Moscow would hold towards the country’s new government.

If, for example, we accept that Afghanistan’s security and political neighbors, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, are not the main actors in the country’s decision-making process, but Moscow is the main player, then the silence Russia is crucial at this time. In Afghanistan, the silence of these two players (Iran and Russia) is becoming more vitality, which has also captivated the attention of the Taliban, Beijing and Islamabad.

The point of recognition also becomes questionable if the revenue generation mechanism to the Taliban is analyzed in reconsideration. In their first era, the Taliban generated revenue through transit of smuggled goods and drugs, cooperation with the warlords, extortion, sales of mines and reservoirs to foreign countries and foreign aid. In case of repetition, it is highly doubted that the Taliban would get recognition as a legitimate government.


The writer is a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of International Relations, Government College University Faisalabad. He  can be reached at Aamirjunaid798@gmail.com. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy