featured image

The time to work for a post-Taliban Afghanistan

It has been 730 days since the Taliban took over Afghanistan. In each 24 hours of each day, the people of Afghanistan suffer under an oppressive mullahcracy, which aims to create a dystopia in which people are not in control of their lives or their bodies. Half of Afghanistan society is effectively outlawed because they happen to be born women. Some are excluded and discriminated against because of their religions, ethnicity or the language they speak. Music is banned and artists are whipped out. Media outlets are closed. Journalists are in prison. The United Nations estimates that more than 95 percent of the population do not get enough to eat, rising to 100 percent for women-led families. Women are banned from education, work, free movement, and open participation in society.  

It has been 730 days that women and girls in Afghanistan have woken up to an inhuman and unbearable fate imposed on them by the Taliban. The tunnel is too long, too dark, and too brutal to bear. It is hard to see the light. But women have refused to give up. In the darkest moments of our history, they made the choice to resist, to fight back. Sometimes they show up on the streets and their voices can be heard from every corner of Afghanistan. Sometimes they sing. They dance. They play. They are in pain. Tired and hungry, but they have refused to give up. 

The regime that the Taliban built in Afghanistan has no parallel in modern history. And the people of Afghanistan know that a humane life is not possible under the Taliban regime. They have proven not once but twice in less than three decades that they are incapable of leading or participating in a society that wants and demands human rights. The Taliban are grinding the people of Afghanistan into paupers. As Zan Times has reported, the Taliban are crushing low-income populations by way of zakat and other taxes, while not providing any services. They also demand money or goods – even pilfering humanitarian aid from the most desperate – through the threat of violence and intimidation. They focus on imposing “prayer tests” and building mosques while already over-stretched social services crumble. And the Taliban are kicking tens of thousands of families, mostly from ethnic groups opposed to the Taliban, off their lands.  

They only think and act from the narrow understanding they are taught in jihadist schools, a belief system in which women are inconsequential and irrelevant. The people of Afghanistan know by experience that a peaceful life in dignity is not possible under the Taliban. The Taliban ideology divides humans into mullahs and laymen. The mullahs have the right and responsibility to rule over laymen. And the laymen are obliged to submit to their brutal rule because of the fact that they are living in Afghanistan. Women do not exist in the social and political equation of the Taliban, because their ideology wants them socially invisible. They are considered sub-humans. That is why they are confined to their homes.  

Sign up for This Week in Afghanistan newsletter

* indicates required

The people of Afghanistan and particularly women know that the Taliban and their gender policies will never change. Their hatred and animosity toward women is so deep as to make them egregiously unique in our patriarchal world, not only once, but twice.  

The very existence of the Taliban regime is a danger not only to Afghanistan, but to the world. The essence of the Taliban regime is to promote a rabid brand of reactionary Islamist control everywhere, by whatever methods are needed. With the Taliban in power, the country has become a breeding ground for fanatics. Just look at how Islamic State and other terrorist organizations are flourishing in Afghanistan and attacking ethnic groups, such as the Hazara. Hundreds have been killed, and thousands injured in those bombings, many students seeking a better future for themselves and Afghanistan. If members of the international community are participating in the normalization and the continuation of the Taliban regime, they are supporting a regime that has committed atrocities that are being investigated for crimes against humanity.  

Judge the Taliban not by what they committed in the Doha agreement, or what their diplomats say for international audiences, but what they did in the past two years. The Taliban had committed that they would respect women’s rights and would allow them to get education and work; they repeated that commitment at their first press conference after overthrowing the previous government and taking Kabul on August 17, 2021. Those platitudes were worthless – within days of regaining power, the Taliban were again systematically depriving the women of Afghanistan of their basic human rights to education and work. The international community should rethink their terms of engagement before Afghanistan’s troubles spread beyond its borders.  

As long as the Taliban are in power in Afghanistan, the people of the region and the people of the world are not going to live in peace. The last two years, as well as the three decade history of the Taliban movement, show that the  Taliban do not have the capacity to build and run a government under whom people can live in peace. Their existence means a region and the world threatened by Islamist ideologies and terrorists based in Afghanistan. Therefore, it is in the interest of the people of Afghanistan and the world to actively plan and work for a post-Taliban Afghanistan.    

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required
Subscribe to newsletter