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’Positively different’: 5 promises the Taliban have made in Afghanistan and their record on the issues

Militancy concerns

Saturday 21 August 2021, by siawi3


’Positively different’: 5 promises the Taliban have made in Afghanistan and their record on the issues

The Taliban have said they are “committed” to the rights of women and have forgiven all those that fought against them.


Published about 23 hours ago

The Taliban have tried to reassure fearful Afghans — and a wary international community — that this time around they will be “positively different”, but their reputation precedes them and few trust the group.

Here are five promises the Taliban have made — and their record on the issues:

Women will have rights, but... -

The Taliban are “committed” to the rights of women, who will be able to work and study, the group’s spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday.

But he stressed at every mention of women that their rights will be determined by Islamic law.

That has always been interpreted by the Taliban’s ultra-conservative leadership.

The last time they were in power, from 1996 to 2001, they brutally suppressed women’s rights.

Girls were banned from going to school, and women were largely barred from public life — allowed out of the house only when covered head-to-toe in a burqa and accompanied by a male relative.

Women accused of violating these rules were given harsh punishments — including being stoned to death for adultery.

Even after they were toppled by US-led forces in 2001, women suffered similar restrictions in the areas under Taliban control. The militants have threatened and attacked women activists, journalists, MPs and even educators for two decades.

Read | ’Times have changed’: some Afghan women defiant as Taliban return
Pardons for all?

The Taliban have insisted that they have forgiven all that fought against them — including government officials, the police and the armed forces.

But many are sceptical because of their record with amnesty announcements, and tens of thousands of Afghans have tried to leave the country since the Taliban victory fearing reprisals.

During their first regime, Taliban fighters killed political opponents and also massacred civilians and religious minorities.

In recent months, the Taliban have been accused of murdering surrendering forces and civilians. The UN human rights chief said there were reports of possible war crimes.

Security for embassies, foreign organisations

The Taliban have tried quickly to reassure foreign governments and organisations that their embassies, offices and personnel are safe — one Russian diplomat said the situation was already better than under the previous administration.

The Taliban, however, have a poor record when it comes to protecting foreign personnel and missions.

In 1996, they entered a United Nations compound where former president Najibullah had been granted refuge, dragged him out to kill him and hang the body from a post.

And two years later, when they captured the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, they raided the Iranian consulate, killing nine diplomats and a journalist.

Read | Will Taliban-II be different from the past?

No use of Afghan soil against other


A core point of the troop withdrawal deal Washington signed with the Taliban last year was that they will not allow militant groups to operate out of Afghanistan.

US-led forces toppled the first Taliban regime because it had refused to give up Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The group has stressed that it is going to honour that commitment, reiterating after taking over that other nations will face no threats.

However, a UN Security Council monitoring report released in June said the Taliban and Al Qaeda remain close.

No more drugs

The Taliban have promised that they will end the narcotics industry in Afghanistan, one of the world’s hubs for the production and trafficking of drugs such as heroin.

It may take some doing, especially if their new government does not have the same access to financial reserves and foreign aid that have sustained Afghanistan’s fragile economy for two decades.

And despite their claims to the contrary, UN monitors say the illicit drugs industry has been one of the biggest sources of revenue for the Taliban, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars, according to estimates published last year.



Militancy concerns


Published August 19, 2021 - Updated about 11 hours ago

HAVING made their way to Kabul like a hot knife through butter, the Afghan Taliban are saying all the right things to a world jittery about the possibility of Afghanistan once again becoming a safe haven for transnational Islamist groups.

In his first news conference on Tuesday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declared they would not allow Afghanistan to be used as a launching pad to attack other countries. This pledge was part of the peace deal signed by the Taliban and the Trump administration in 2020 which was the prelude to the US withdrawal. And the world will be watching very closely to see if the victorious Afghan insurgents follow through.

There are two main points of concern here. Are the Taliban sincere in their assurances, and is it possible for them to keep transnational terrorists in check?

In the face of impending US military action after 9/11, Mullah Omar, despite his close ties with Osama bin Laden — whose financial support and foreign fighters had helped bring most of Afghanistan under Taliban control — wanted his Arab guest to leave. Ultimately though, he opted to not force bin Laden’s departure. That decision had profound, long-term consequences for the then Taliban government.

Read: ’Positively different’ — 5 promises the Taliban have made in Afghanistan and their record on the issues

Twenty years later, the present crop of Taliban leaders may be more pragmatic. They know they need international aid to rebuild their war-wracked country, whose internal dissensions will otherwise ensure perpetual instability and chaos. However, over the years, Afghanistan’s militancy landscape has become more complex, reflecting shifting patterns in the wider arena of extremist violence. It is a Gordian knot that will be diabolically difficult to unravel.

According to a recent UNSC report, Al Qaeda is present in at least 15 Afghan provinces; in some of them, it “operates under Taliban protection”. Meanwhile, the banned TTP has long enjoyed sanctuaries along Afghanistan’s border areas after being pushed out of Pakistan by military campaigns in Swat and the tribal districts. With the unification in 2020 of several splinter groups, overseen by Al Qaeda, the TTP is enjoying a resurgence manifested in increasing cross-border attacks into Pakistan. As per the UNSC report, IS, after a battering at the hands of the Taliban and the Afghan and US forces in Kunar and Nangarhar last year, has dispersed to other provinces and formed sleeper cells there. It is also feared that IS may be able to attract fighters from conflict zones in the Middle East. Last but not least, there also remain pockets of Uighur and Uzbek militants in Afghanistan.

The world, besides keeping up the pressure on the next Afghan government, must help it address the issue of militancy. Given that all the major players in the tragedy of Afghanistan — from the US to Pakistan — have played a role in seeding and enabling extremist violence in that country, it is incumbent upon them to do so.