The Taliban is in the process of establishing a comprehensive camera surveillance network in Afghan cities, with potential involvement from a plan developed by the United States prior to its 2021 withdrawal.
This initiative aims to enhance security and counter international militant groups, particularly the Islamic State, which has been responsible for numerous major attacks in Afghan cities.
The Taliban administration has also held discussions with Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer Huawei regarding potential collaboration for this surveillance network.
While the primary objective of this initiative is to prevent attacks by international militant groups, there are concerns about the Taliban’s financial capacity to fund such a program.
Additionally, human rights groups are worried that the surveillance resources could be used to suppress protests and violate civil liberties.
The plan encounters practical challenges, including power cuts and funding issues, given Afghanistan’s economic contraction and the withdrawal of aid following the Taliban’s takeover.
China’s involvement in discussions with the Taliban on counter-terrorism and security cooperation adds another dimension to this development.
China has expressed concerns about militant groups, particularly the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which it believes has a presence in Afghanistan.
Overall, the implementation of a mass surveillance system in Afghan cities raises both security and human rights concerns, and its effectiveness in countering militant groups remains to be seen.