The wait finally ends. Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesperson, announced the formation of a long-awaited 33-member interim government for Afghanistan on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, to be led by Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund. The world had not yet recovered from the sudden abandoning of the USA forces from Afghanistan and the announcement of the interim Taliban government has surprised the world again.
The international community was expecting an all-inclusive government but instead, the appointments have been given to hard-core Taliban activists. At least four of the cabinet members are still on the terror watch list. There is no woman as well the powerbrokers from the previous regime like Hekmatyar, Abdullah Abdullah, and Hamid Karzai have been shown the red card. This will bode ill for the western governments that will have to cut a sorry figure in front of their public.
Analyzing the Taliban 2.0
The only sellable point of giving back the government to the Taliban, from whom it was wrestled 20 years ago, was that the Taliban have changed and the new Taliban 2.0 would abide by the international norms and an all-inclusive government comprising of all minorities and women would be made. That could have pacified the families of thousands of soldiers who laid their lives that Afghanistan is a better place than it was 20 years ago.
However, anyone with a little bit of knowledge about the working of the tribal society would have guessed the outcome. The winner takes it all is the rule in the tribal society. The same rule was applied by the Northern Alliance while forming the government after the USA toppled the Taliban’s earlier government of the 1990s.
Similarly, the Taliban have been promising that the women would be granted the role in society as is defined in Islamic Shariah; and holding public office in the government is not one of that according to them. Women will have access to education and can work in the health sector provided they adhere to a strict dress code. This is in contrast to the western norm of societies where women have been playing an ever-increasing role in public life since the start of the twentieth century.
The evolution of Afghanistan
Russia, China, and few Western countries have realized that Afghanistan is a country that has its own culture and history. And that they are not ready to embrace western values – not under pressure anyway. 40 years of imposing foreign will on them through military means have proven futile. Therefore, Afghans must be granted time and opportunity to self-governance and to allow to evolve and modernize at their own pace and style.
Few protests by women have been witnessed in some cities demanding equal rights. The Taliban did not use brute force to stop or disperse them. That is a good sign that the Taliban can tolerate differences of opinion. That is in continuation to the general pardon that they have announced for their rivals who have been fighting alongside USA forces for two decades. Unlike the way Dr. Najeebullah was hanged during the first takeover of Kabul, Hamid Karzai, Ismail Khan, Abdullah Abdullah, and other warlords’ lives have been spared.
The same clemency was offered to Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Masood but they did not lay down their arms and hence Penjshir Valley was attacked and reportedly both the leaders have fled the valley. That will ensure that the Taliban will have control over entire Afghanistan and the unrest that they faced during their first stint at the hand of Ahmad Shah Masood would not the there.
Peace and stability in Afghanistan would have the most profound effect on Pakistan. Hostile Afghanistan under the previous government of Northern Alliance with close ties with India was the cause of great concern for Pakistan. Anti-Pakistan forces including separatist Balouch leaders and Tehrek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were given refuge by them and were nurtured by the Indian consulates to create disharmony and mess in Pakistan. Indian consulates were also involved in coordinating sabotage activities to disrupt the projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The recent attacks on Chinese nationals at the under-construction tunnel site of the 4,300-megawatt Dassu hydropower were carried out by the nexus of Afghanistan’s NDS (now dysfunctional) and India’s RAW. Taliban have, however, given assurances that no such force will be allowed to use Afghanistan to carry out any terrorist activity in Pakistan.
Moreover, Pakistan is expecting that the bilateral trade with Afghanistan could again be boosted that saw a sharp decline during the previous regime.
New Afghan regime implications on Pakistan
The long outstanding issue of accepting Durand Line as the international border could also be resolved with the pro-Pakistan regime in Kabul. Though the same was not resolved when the Taliban were in power during the 1990s, however, then the Taliban government was busy consolidating their power, and their government was not recognized by the international community therefore, the issue remained unresolved.
One concern for Pakistan is the inflow of refugees in case unrest spreads in Afghanistan. At present, there is no chance of a large influx of refugees as Afghanistan is generally witnessing peace. Few demonstrations were observed but were mainly restricted to the urban centers and traditionally those people won’t migrate to Pakistan rather would like to go to western countries and Pakistan is already facilitating the transit movement for them.
Afghanistan is the heart of Asia and its stability would ensure peace and prosperity to the region. Therefore, the regional powers must work together and nurture the Taliban government both by recognizing them and providing financial support that is needed. Another Great Game in the region between the blocks led by USA-India and China-Pakistan would only bring disaster. Let us hope that the Taliban could bring peace to Afghanistan and with that, the world enters an “Asian Century” and see the emergence of a New World Order.
The writer is a freelance contributor based in Manchester, UK. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.