Before August last year, many groups and individuals familiar with the situation in Afghanistan believed that the Taliban would act differently in comparison to their rule during the 1990s. When Zabihullah Mujahid appeared in the media at his first press conference, the media further emphasized the assumption that the group has changed. People argued that the Taliban are intended to respect women’s rights, adhere the general amnesty they have announced, refrain from interfering in citizens’ privacy, and most importantly, form an inclusive government.
In Contrast, none of these assumptions turned into reality. In fact, the Taliban, after 20 years of killing and murdering innocent people for the sack of their baseless Jihad have not changed, but even appeared to be radical compared to their time in the 1990s. They have adapted a very soft foreign policy so as to deceive the international community and pave the way for their recognition. On the other hand, they have been continuously violating the human rights by imposing restrictions and closing education doors to girls on the bases of their false interpretation from religious texts and principles that they have learned in Haqqani Madrasa, a Deobandi-Salafi School in Pakistan established to spread the idea of the Islamic Jihad in the region.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesperson and Acting Deputy Minister for the Information and Culture Ministry have been trying to portray a tolerant picture from the Taliban, but behind the scene the story is quite different. In the very first days of their entrance to Kabul, they had promised of forming an inclusive government and tolerance toward women, religious and ethnic minorities, and particularly non-Pashtun communities. But in practice, they are failing to deliver their promises against every single value promoted by the international community during the course of the last two decades. For example, recently Taliban have closed the education doors to girls till further notice, they have applied schedule for parks, specifying particular days for women and men to visit park separately, and they have ordered civil servants not to shave beards and wear suites.
Targeted Killings and Field Trials
During the course of history, Afghanistan’s rulers have tried to reign over the country using physical elimination of opponents affiliated with the non-Pashtun communities. Therefore, they have adopted a suppressing strategy against their fellow countrymen, the consequences of which will last forever in Afghanistan.
Living under the white flag of the Taliban is humiliating and distressing for Afghanistan’s civilians. The way the Taliban are intended to rule is also extremely dangerous for the people of Afghanistan. In Afghanistan under the Taliban, no one is safe in the true sense of the word. If the Taliban continue to rule this way, minorities will no longer be able to survive in Afghanistan, women and girls will disappear from public spheres, and Afghanistan will remain extremely insecure and instable, performing as a safe haven for global terrorism.
Taliban fighters set out ‘land-grabbing’ campaigns in Afghanistan shortly after they took over the country in last August, coercing the indigenous inhabitants of slum-dwelling villages in central Afghanistan’s Daikundi province to leave their farmlands and properties to Taliban sympathizers and marking the first phase of systematically suppressing civilians. They, later, did the same in Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif as well. Weeks after the reemergence of the Taliban, thousands of people across the country became homeless due to the Taliban’s coercive campaign.
The crackdown on defenseless villagers in remote and impoverished areas was not the only indication exhibiting that the Taliban do not want to give up their enmity to civilians as the group’s fighters carried out kidnappings and killings in the cities as well. They firstly kidnapped women activists and arbitrarily killed dozens of them in the process. Taliban fighters also detained and tortured political figures, former government affiliates and journalists. There are numerous reports indicating that Taliban members conducted massive revenge killings in Afghanistan since August last year. Moreover, the Taliban also tried imposing certain restrictions on media outlets despite having the fact that more than half of media outlets shut down in Afghanistan due to budget shortages and fear of the new regime change in the country.
The Taliban are now more openly cracking down on civilians and implementing their restrictive policies, considering that the international community is focused on the war in Ukraine. Recently, as in the 1990s, the Taliban imposed specific restrictions that increasingly suppressed social groups. The Taliban have recently ordered male employees in the government to wear turbans along with local casual clothing, known as Shalwar Kamiz, stressing that growing beards is compulsory thereafter. Women have also been told not to appear in public without wearing hijab. There have even been reports indicating that Taliban’s virtue promoters have publicly beaten up women who did not wear burqa.
The people of Afghanistan and the international community only expected the Taliban to reopen the education doors to girls in the spring. But still schoolgirls are denied an equal chance of education. All these incidents and facts indicate that the Taliban want to oppress the people of Afghanistan psychologically and ideologically in the true sense of the word. They want to spread fear among civilians through killings, kidnappings and repression campaigns, regardless of the rational demands of Afghanistan’s people and the international community. Last but not least, the Taliban will only provoke people against its government and make the process of gaining national legitimacy more challenging by putting more pressure on ordinary citizens.
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Source: Hasht-e Subh Daily