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ONE YEAR OF TALIBAN GOVERNMENT IN AFGHANISTAN

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ONE YEAR OF TALIBAN GOVERNMENT IN AFGHANISTAN

PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES

August 15, 2021, was the historic day in the annals of world history as it was on this day that the 20-year-long resistance of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan culminated into Taliban getting control of the state of affairs in Afghanistan. One year has passed and Taliban have celebrated their victory day by marching through the roads and streets of Kabul, chanting slogans in front US embassy in the capital. During the past year, the Taliban have faced certain challenges and have also successfully dealt with many of them while some of them are yet to be addressed. The global community and regional countries are very much concerned about the future of the Taliban, Afghanistan’s domestic situation, alleged presence of foreign militants on the Afghan soil, territorial integrity of the country, impacts of the uncertain situations on the region and, last but not least, the life of common Afghans in this whole scenario.

On the eve of completion of its first year in power, Emir of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan; Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzada, reportedly, addressed, in Kandahar, a gathering of around 2500 people including, religious clerics, academicians, experts, members of civil society, officials of former government as well as of the Islamic Emirate. In this in-camera session, the Taliban chief categorically stated that Islamic Emirate will establish its relations with the global partners according to the guiding principles of Shariah. Whatever Shariah enshrines in every matter of life, the Emirate is bound to follow that in its true spirit. Maulvi Amir Khan Muttaqi; the incumbent foreign minister of the interim government of Islamic Emirate, said the Emirate has represented Afghan people in the international fora better than anyone else. He added that the Emirate wants friendly relations with other nations; nevertheless, after being fighting for 20 years, some nations should not expect normal relations from us.

Furthermore, looking towards the internal situation in Afghanistan, no major conflicts of Taliban with other militant organizations have been reported but natural calamities, particularly earthquake and floods, have wreaked havoc in some areas of the country. According to the Ministry of State for Natural Disaster Management, during the past year, as many as 1511 people died and 3726 injured in these natural calamities while 24,000 houses were completely or partially destroyed. The Taliban are thankful to the neighbouring and regional countries for their timely help for the needy people in this crucial time. The earthquake destruction in Khost and Paktika was the most widespread and disastrous, where the people are still facing issues in returning to a normal life.

One major issue on which there was no positive development seen in this era is that of female education at school level, though the girls’ education at university level was reopened with classes for males and females on alternate days.

The brain drain in the wake of the Taliban takeover has posed a serious challenge for the Islamic Emirate officials but they are still hopeful that people will return and are making efforts through many channels to bring these people back home so that they may take part in efforts of rebuilding the nation.

Surprisingly, the attacks on mosques and targeting of general public and Taliban officials have increased in the recent months, which proves the presence of other militant groups and miscreants that may pose serious threats to the Emirate.
Despite the vows made by the Taliban of moving towards political cohesion and inclusiveness, the intra-Afghan dialogue for making an inclusive government has been halted and no major developments have been reported. Former army chief and vice president during Ashraf Ghani regime Rasheed Dostam – an arch-enemy of the Taliban – has reportedly offered talks with the Taliban to ensure his return to Afghanistan.

Furthermore, the alleged killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in Kabul has raised many eyebrows for the safety and security of the Afghan land. Although Taliban officials have strongly rejected the presence of Zawahiri in Kabul, yet the FBI intelligence officials and surveillance teams claim that the operation was conducted on the basis of concrete data and intelligence information. Taliban have now vowed to develop technology and radar system that will target the drones and any other plane that violates their sovereignty and territorial integrity. These issues have proved to be the major hurdles in recognition of Taliban government by the international community.

As regards the engagement Afghanistan with the international community in the last year, there have been many regional conferences and seminars to find a workable pathway for engaging with Afghanistan and working for helping Afghans in the deteriorating situations due to new political dispensation. Two consecutive OIC conferences in Pakistan, security summits in Moscow, Delhi Dialogue on Regional Security and many other such initiatives were aimed for bringing stability in Afghanistan. Many European countries have reopened their embassies in Kabul, though they are operating with minimum staff, and are gradually moving towards full-fledged diplomatic activities once Taliban government gets international recognition.

Owing to growing poverty in Afghanistan, Kanni Wagnaraja; Assistant Secretary General and Regional Director of Asia-Pacific at UNDP, has called for investments in small and micro businesses in the country so as to aid economy in moving towards sustainability. She asserted: “A big part of the UN and UNDP’s effort is to jumpstart the local business sector and get that moving because Afghans will feed Afghans. They will produce their own food.”

Similarly, Chinese ambassador in Afghanistan, Wang Yu, has reiterated his country’s enhanced role in the development of Afghanistan. He remarked: “As Afghans are good neighbours, brothers and partners, China will stand firm on the concept of community with shared future for mankind, guided by the global development initiative and global security initiative. China will substantially enhance bilateral cooperation in all areas.”

On the regional level, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has called for regional approach to improving the security situation in Afghanistan. Zang Ming, the Secretary-General of the SCO, while addressing the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security in Moscow stated: “Afghanistan is a country which is situated on SCO area and … we think that security situation of this country is one of the most important factors of maintaining security in the SCO region. Member countries support Afghanistan’s wish to become an independent, neutral, democratic, and peaceful country.”

Moreover, while addressing this conference, the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu emphasized on the role of China, Russia, Pakistan, India and Iran by saying, “The topic of Afghanistan should be kept on the agenda of discussions of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Russia, China, India, Iran and Pakistan could make a significant contribution not only in stabilizing the region, but also in prevention of the threat spreading beyond its borders.” On the occasion, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe stated: “As for Afghanistan, China is ready in cooperation with the world community to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and in the region by helping Afghanistan fight with terrorism and providing humanitarian aid.”

To conclude, Taliban have been trying their best to normalize the political, security, social, economic and diplomatic situation inside and outside the country. They are finding ways for generation of revenue from internal sources and are trying to attract foreign investment in various sectors of Afghanistan’s economy. The foremost challenge that they face now is the international recognition which is mainly attached with the security situation in Afghanistan, and the status of women, especially female education. The regional countries and well-wishers of Afghanistan must try to pacify the hard stance of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in these issues and ensure their recognition is for the sake of the lives of common Afghans.

The author teaches at the Department of Political Science, University of Malakand Chakdara, Lower Dir. He can be reached at mairajulhamid717@gmail.com.

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