The current Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan alongside USA’s withdrawal of its forces is an unfortunate reality to a dark and gloomy future. The Afghan government is losing control over major provincial capitals and areas. Currently, at least 10 provincial capitals in the northern region of Afghanistan is under Taliban rule. This includes control of government offices, police, law, and also trade. Ghazni, which is situated around 150 km from Kabul is on the Taliban's conquered list. The second and third largest cities in the country, namely Kandahar and Herat have also been occupied. This means there are chances that if the capital at Kabul is not defended properly, it might inevitably fall into Taliban control.
The USA is scheduled to move out its troops completely by September 11, 2021. This also includes all foreign troops which are stationed in Afghanistan under the NATO alliance. Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, this is the largest amount of area the fundamentalist group has captured by force in Afghanistan. The duration of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, especially from 1996-2001 has constituted multiple forms of human rights violations over Afghan civilian populations. This came with a strict interpretation of conservative norms through the implementation of Sharia Law.
The withdrawal of western troops from Afghanistan has helped the Taliban to regroup and take control over a large portion of the country. It's important to understand that the Taliban’s enemy is not the western forces, but instead the very legitimate government in Afghanistan under Ashraf Ghani.
The present Afghan government is a proxy installation that happened through the resources of western forces like the USA. The current government does not support any form of rigid fundamentalist Islamic doctrine like the Sharia. On the other hand, the Taliban’s major ambition is to consolidate a country that rigidly abides by Sharia law. The current success of the Taliban insurgency has resulted in a lot of events where people are prosecuted under Sharia law. The instances of this conservatism are recorded in multiple reports over the last two months. The following instances are just a few recorded instances that caught the public eye.
Death and misery: How the Taliban law can be merciless
The Sharia Law proliferated in Afghanistan has extreme measures put up to make sure that women are oppressed under its rigid laws. For instance, from 1996-2001, women were not allowed to go outside without a male relative accompanying them. The Taliban had also recently declared a fatwa which allows Taliban soldiers to marry any girl who is above 12 years of age and also widowers. In some provinces, every family was forced to marry off at least one of their daughters to Taliban fighters.
Executions are also happening rampantly. A 21-year-old woman was recently dragged out and killed by Taliban militants for not wearing a burqa in public. On August 4th, Gandhara, a media channel based deeply in Pakistan and Afghanistan reported that a woman was killed for wearing tight clothing.
Women are also not allowed to attend a school or impart any form of education. The Taliban have also brought in measures to shut down schools entirely in many areas.
The Sharia Law is very rigid and any violation from it can result in painful punishments which also include death. These punishments will be dictated by a non-elected religious cleric who will also be the judicial head of the province, district he is appointed at. The strict punishments bring about a sense of fear and helplessness, thereby forcing people to abide by the Taliban’s unlawful oppressive methods. Women would be considered as mere slaves in these extreme laws under sharia, in which patriarchy and gender segregation will be enforced with rigorous punishments.
According to a statistic mentioned by BBC, in 1999, not a single girl student was enrolled in secondary school. This is during Taliban rule. However, between 2003 and 2017, the number of women attending secondary school jumped from 6% to 39%. Also, 1/3rd of the students in public and private universities were women in Afghanistan. 69 of the 249 seats in the lower house of the parliament are also represented by women. Now, in the current situation, where the Taliban has more spatial control in Afghanistan compared to 2001, the improved condition of women will take a hit and there will be a downfall in terms of their representation and individual freedom. The aspect of preserving one's dignity as a woman will also become impossible if the Taliban gains its foothold.
Credit: Human Rights Watch
Even though the impact will be quite regressive, it's not just women who will be subjected. Any person who disavows the Sharia way of life will be met with meticulous punishment. This includes corporal punishments or death. For engaging in pre-marital sex, you might receive lashes. For being a homosexual, death by making a wall fall on a person or stoning are certain possibilities, according to reports. Corporal punishments will also be stringently followed. This depends on the degree of severity of the crime committed in terms of Sharia Law. For instance, committing theft will result in severing the hand of the thief.
Also, any form of music, entertainment, leisure, or progressive non-religious ways of being will bring about the wrath of Taliban severity. Reports suggest that Abdullah Atif, a prominent historian, and poet was killed by the Taliban recently. Khasha Zwan, a policeman, who is also a popular comedian was executed by the Taliban under claims that making other people laugh was illegal. The Taliban further justified the killing of Zwan suggesting that he was responsible for the death of many Taliban soldiers during combat. However, sources from multiple reports exclaim how Zwan never went into combat, and nor did he have any Taliban casualties attached to his name.
Apart from the continued oppression of the Afghan public, these conservative doctrines and policies will induce a process of internal displacement along with increased migration of refugees to other countries. Displaced Afghans have started occupying tents in Kabul because of the destruction and havoc the Taliban brought to their lives.
There are severe shortages of necessities like food, water, and health/ sanitary utilities as well. There is also increased inflation which brings a detrimental impact to the overall situation. According to UNHCR, there are 2.5 million registered refugees from Afghanistan. This number is going to increase if the Taliban starts gaining a further foothold in the country, which it already has!
The refugees are spread majoritively across Iran, Pakistan, and UAE. Other countries from Europe to Asia also have Afghan refugees residing in their countries. In India, there are around 8000 UNHCR recognized refugees who fled the horrors in their country to seek asylum. Other than the recognized refugees, the actual number can go as high as 30,000.
One such Afghan refugee named Akbar Farhad, who is an artist, claims that he will not be able to go back to his country if the Taliban threat ensues. This is because his entire profession and practice will be termed haram by the Taliban. Farhad’s hardships, which were covered by a news18 report recently, has been a refugee in India since 2018.
Joe Biden recently claimed that he does not regret the decision to pull out American forces from Afghanistan. He also urged the Afghan leaders to fight for the sovereignty of their homeland. As of now other countries including the USA are sending in forces to evacuate their citizens from their respective embassies. The USA is still providing air support for the Afghan government's forces, but they will not take the high road and conduct an offense to dissolve the Taliban. It seems the USA has ultimately decided to wash its hands off and leave a country in turmoil through the insurgency of the Taliban. The formation of this military Islamic group was induced through the same training provided by the CIA forces to Afghans during the Soviet occupation in the 1990s.
Reports from 12th August highlight German foreign minister Heiko Mass’s press conference. He announced that Afghanistan will not receive the annual payment of 505 million $ if the Taliban takes over and introduces Sharia law.
In terms of other South Asian countries, Pakistan has been funding the Taliban through its channels, but the foreign officials and delegates from the country are remaining neutral in regards to the current instability in Afghanistan.
India had also attended a delegation with the Taliban at Doha in 2020. India’s stance is also two-faced as they have not brushed away the possibility of engaging in talks with the Taliban. The stand seems to be the right thing to do, keeping in mind Chinese-Pakistan ties and how this can bring in funding for the Taliban as well, mainly in the form of weapons and other infrastructure. In terms of accepting refugees in India, there is an air of uncertainty, especially considering the provisions under CAA which do not allow non-muslim refugees to seek asylum in the country. However, the same would not apply to Sikh and Hindu refugees from Afghanistan.
The Taliban will aim to oppress the entire Afghan population through its fundamentalist Islamic doctrines and strict regulations. Rather than focusing on helping Afghans get out of this anticipated misery, other countries seem interested and preoccupied with their own concerns, especially preparing for possible negotiations with a future Taliban government in Afghanistan.
Credit: Getty Images
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