Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan was all over the news, for the last two months. Taliban, an extremist Islamist organization, ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, under what they called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. They ruled by the Islamic Sharia Law, and did not hesitate to kill or brutally torture the citizens who refused to follow their rule. On the 15th of August, they succeeded in capturing Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, twenty years after their defeat in 2001, as the legitimate president, Ashraf Ghani, had to escape the country and let it easily fall in their hands. How did Taliban manage to seize power back after twenty years? The main reason for that is the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan’s capital and main lands. That encouraged Taliban to fight the Afghan army and thus capture the land and the power.
However, there was a few optimists who believed that there might be a change in Taliban’s system that makes them more democratic and just, than the older organization. Such believes rose especially after the words of Taliban’s spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid where he said that “We want to build the future and forget what happened in the past.” He added that Taliban will not seek vengeance against those who fought against them and be sided with the United States. He, also, promised that Taliban will respect women’s rights, confirming that “our sisters will be treated the same as our men”. These words, said two months ago, makes us wonder if they kept their promises and if they can really change. On the other side, can they really bring stability to Afghanistan and what their rule means for women, human rights, and political freedoms? Are they keeping their promises?
Up till this moment, Taliban has failed to respect human rights as the new rulers of Afghanistan. The humanitarian situation in the country is getting worse by day, due to the already suffering economy. The country is suffering from one of the largest economic shocks ever in terms with inflation, as the foreign aid is cut. Afghanistan used to receive foreign aid that accumulated to 40 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). On the humanitarian level, poverty, hunger, and malnutrition, they are widespread, and the people are begging for basic needs to keep them alive. On another note, Mujahid mentioned that Taliban is aiming to develop the country, and will not allow the land of Afghanistan to be a safe haven for terrorists. However, the reality that we have watched, over the past two months, shows that these are empty promises that cannot be achieved.
Moreover, Taliban did not keep any of the promises that Mujahid swore. Taliban showed zero respect to human rights and women’s rights. Most recently, Taliban-affiliated authorities applied firm restrictions on freedom of speech and media, that is resulting in criticism, worldwide. They basically are preventing any critical reporting about their rule to be published. This contradicts the promises that they made before, when they said that the freedom of speech would be allowed and that they changed a lot in this regard. Journalists in Afghanistan can not practice their job safely, anymore, as they are fearing ending up in jail with the accusation of criticizing Taliban. According to several world news outlets, on September 6th, some journalists led protests calling for free media and freedom of speech. However, many of those participating got arrested, and put in prison after being investigated and beaten up. taken, prisoned, questioned, and beaten up. A journalist in Kabul, in a televised interview, said that these regulations are very “worrying” and that under Taliban the country will not develop, at all. Such regulations kill the idea of freedom of speech.
In addition, the way Taliban handled women’s rights, over the past two month, was not promising either. The organization applied several policies that has already violated Women’s rights. First, since seizing power, on 15th of August, the Afghan women have not stopped protesting in the streets, despite the huge threats they are exposed to. They know what is awaiting them, under the extremist rule of Taliban. When Taliban ruled Afghanistan, before 2001, they banned girls from access to education, and made it mandatory for women to never get out of their homes. Living under Taliban rule was a prison for most of the Afghan women, protesting in the streets today. As expected, Taliban attacked the protests and arrested most of the protesting women. Moreover, women now are not allowed to work at any job that a man can do, according to Taliban rules. Therefore, they are only restricted to certain jobs like, for example, teaching girls and providing health care for women. In the recent past, Afghan women worked in decision-making positions.
In conclusion, the future of Afghanistan does not look as bright and promising as what Mujahid has promised. Over the past two months, Taliban failed to stick to their promises and violated human rights and women’s rights in more than one instance. I do not think that there is a lot of differences between the old Taliban and the new one. It is more of a Taliban 1.2 rather than Taliban 2.0. In the end a lot of parties has been in Afghanistan in the last years, and what is happening could be spoken about for hours, but in the end the only one who is experiencing this miserable way of life are the poor Afghan people.