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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Afghanistan on its way to further turmoil?

Ever since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, we are witnessing new changes every single day and none of them seem positive and it makes us wonder about the future of Afghanistan because the Taliban administration is currently facing countless problems.

The past few months have been like a rollercoaster ride for everyone across the world. From Biden announcing US withdrawal from Afghanistan and ending a two-decade war in the region to Ashraf Ghani abandoning his people to the mercy of the Taliban who barged in Kabul to declare their rule. It has been a whirlwind ride but this makes us wonder how Afghanistan is going to look like in the incoming years. The Taliban administration has a huge responsibility of rebuilding the war-torn country and hopefully come up with reforms that can provide relief to Afghan people especially women.

Hours after the U.S. departure that ended America’s longest war, celebratory gunfire erupted across the country as Taliban fighters took control of Hamid Karzai International Airport — long a potent symbol of Washington’s power.

Read more: No music in Afghanistan as 100 musicians flee fearing Taliban crackdown

A recap

The last flight out of Kabul, which met the Biden administration’s Aug 31 deadline for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces, was described as a historical moment by the Taliban.

“Congratulations to Afghanistan,” the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters at a news conference at the airport. “This victory belongs to us all.”

The world is looking at the Taliban through the lenses of the past frame therefore we do not see much hope from the international community perspective. The arrival of the Taliban in Kabul was met with mixed reactions; some celebrated their arrival while others were running towards the exit points of the country. We still haven’t forgotten the images of people clinging to a military aircraft’s wheels and unfortunately ending their lives.

Afraid of Taliban reprisals once the U.S. departed, Washington airlifted more than 123,000 people out of the country, including about 6,000 American citizens, according to the State Department. Many Afghans who left had aided U.S. forces during the 20-year occupation.

Read more: Afghanistan highlights link between religious soft power and Gulf states security

Actions speak louder than words

The Taliban promised that they will not take any revenge on the Afghan people and will bring better reforms for the sake of their people. But unfortunately, we do not see much being done at the moment.

In the areas of the country that fell under their control in the lead-up to the Taliban’s final assault on the capital, reports emerged of the same kind of brutality that had made the movement infamous and turned the country into a pariah state.

In a region north of Kabul, folk singer Fawad Andarabi was fatally shot by the Taliban just days after they had searched his home, the singer’s family says.

Among their edicts when last in power, the Taliban banned music as un-Islamic.

Earlier, a popular comedian in the country’s south, Nazar Mohammad, better known as Khasha Zwan, was seen in a video being beaten by Taliban fighters. He was later gunned down. Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, promised that the two men seen in the video attacking Khasha Zwan would be put on trial.

The biggest dilemma stands for the women of this country who are fighting the battle for their rights and an air where they could breathe the same rights as men. The Taliban has announced their government and have gone against their words when they didn’t include any women in the government. They had formerly introduced many harsh measures against the country’s population.

For instance, they banned women from working, closed schools for girls, and forced men to grow a beard. Nowadays, it seems that they will be relatively more flexible in their political perspective. The expectation that they have learned from their political mistakes is quite high and therefore the possibility of political recognition of the new regime is much higher than before but can they be truly reformed?

Read more: Financial Times report says PM Khan was right about Afghanistan

Taliban announces expansion of new cabinet with no women representation

The new policy for Afghanistan’s premier university is another major blow to women’s rights under Taliban rule, and to a two-decade effort to build up higher education.

The Taliban have announced that women in Afghanistan will only be allowed to study at university in gender-segregated classrooms and Islamic dress will be compulsory, stoking fears that gender apartheid will be imposed on the country under the new regime.

The international community has been keeping a close watch on how the new, all-male, Taliban regime is treating Afghan women in order to gauge just how much the Taliban’s pledges of moderation are a reality.

The real question arises if the situation will remain the same in the future with no inclusion of women in government. Only time will tell

Humanitarian crises in Afghanistan

Since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, the humanitarian emergency there has worsened. The focus is now shifting to a much larger, multi-faceted humanitarian crisis throughout the country. Violence, displacement, drought, and the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Afghan population with accelerating force in recent years, and the humanitarian disaster gathered pace in May as the final withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces began. Afghans teemed across borders seeking refuge after the government collapsed on 15 August.

Unprecedented numbers of civilians were killed and injured in the early months of 2021 and at least 560,000 people were displaced, including nearly 120,000 fleeing to Kabul as they sought refuge from Taliban advances. Those numbers represent the worst-ever period in what for some years has been the world’s deadliest conflict. The count of displaced people in Afghanistan over the last seven months was twice the monthly average in the last five years, and the figures are expected to grow as aid agencies’ accounting catches up with the scale of the crisis. Some 80 percent of those fleeing violence since the end of May have been women and children. Will Russia and China will step forward in helping Afghanistan to step forward from this crisis since both countries have shown great support for the Taliban regime?

Read more: US war in Afghanistan was a strategic failure: Top US general

Will the US really take a step back from Afghanistan?

A few days ago President Biden said that the U.S. will continue to support Afghans through “diplomacy, international influence, and humanitarian aid.”

“Human rights will be the center of our foreign policy, but the way to do that is not through endless military deployments but through diplomacy, economic tools, and rallying the rest of the world for support,” Biden said.

With the U.S. exit from Afghanistan complete, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was prepared to be “relentless” in efforts to help individuals escape the country even without boots on the ground.

“A new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun,” Blinken said in a statement. “It’s one in which we will lead with our diplomacy.”

It is hard to imagine that the US will really take a step back as we know that the US has always been interested in Afghan soil due to various reasons and one of them is the resources that Afghan soil provides.

Read more: West’s failure in Afghanistan no cause for celebrations: Germany

Also, the US will never ignore the fact that the Taliban administration is getting support from China, Russia, and Iran so the US has to step up its diplomatic game to measure up to their rivals and compete with them in power politics.

The author is a research associate and sub-editor at GVS. She has previously worked with Express-News Islamabad. She can be reached at az.aeliya@gmail.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.