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Taliban Government in Afghanistan

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Taliban Government in Afghanistan

Challenges and Opportunities

Around nine months have passed since Taliban took over Afghanistan, on 15th of August 2021. Immediately after taking over, Taliban were faced with certain issues in legal, social, cultural, political, strategic and diplomatic domains. The hydra of Ashraf Ghani administration’s persistent hypocritical approach, Nato’s presence on the Afghan soil, conflict with Afghan security forces, staggering economy, divided political spectrum, persistent media trial and lack of resources welcomed the Taliban when they assumed the role to govern the war-ravaged country. Adding insult to injury was the seizure of Afghanistan’s assets by the United States. The situation got further deteriorated with the flight of human resource from Kabul, no recognition by the international community and the arrival of winter season. Within no time, more than three million Afghans were pushed below poverty line and that happened at a time when they were also faced with severe weather conditions throughout the country. But the most important challenge was Taliban’s non-acceptance of the principle of co-existence, which was fuelled with a non-compromising behaviour and seeing the world from the lens of their traditional, conservative approach. To cut the story short, they opted for typical theocracy and refused to go side by side with the world. Perplexingly, they are still not ready to fulfil their promises of ensuring the provision of human rights and guaranteeing the Afghan women their due rights.
Of late, international media was abuzz with the news that Taliban have not opened girls’ schools, colleges and universities as per their promises. Although they had announced general amnesty soon after taking over the reins of Afghanistan, still there are credible reports that they have targeted some of their enemies and have tried to persecute them at many places.
Revenue collection is another huge challenge that must be surmounted to uplift the country’s devastated economy. Cross-border terrorism and use of Afghan soil by militant organizations against Pakistan has further added to the challenges. There are certain reports that clearly show the Taliban’s intentions to rule their land as per the previous practice, i.e. that of late nineties. The ban on entry of unmarried couples or male and female partners in parks is understandable in the light of Pashtun traditions, but prohibiting legally-married couples from enjoying communally inside a park is an utter nonsense and it will defame Taliban just like the way they faced severe criticism when they demolished Buddha’s statue in Bamiyan province during their previous rule. Several Jihadi and Islamist organizations have their keen eyes on Taliban’s performance as they foresee their future in their success, and even failure. It is crystal clear that remaining oblivious to ground realities and expanding the list of enemies, instead of that of sympathizers, will weaken Taliban’s status in their own jihadi circles as well. Taliban should think as to why the countries that supported them are, too, reluctant to recognize their government and most of the embassies and diplomatic missions in those countries are still closed. Their well-wishers have, time and again, reminded them of their vows and asked them to fulfil their promises, but Taliban are, mysteriously, not paying any heed to this sane advice. Stubbornness and rigid behaviour are leading Taliban to the edge of destruction.
However, as they say, it is not over yet; there are certain opportunities that may prove to be a ray of hope, in this grave situation, for the Taliban. However, to fully utilize these, the Taliban must opt for openness, cooperation, mutual respect and co-existence, enlightenment and educating their citizens.
While giving a briefing to the special session of United Nations Security Council, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Ms. Deborah Lyons, noted many positive points of Taliban regime she witnessed during her stay in Afghanistan in the recent past. She said that the assistance and proactive role of Taliban in helping the international humanitarian agencies during their operations in far-flung areas was highly commendable, and their zeal to help their fellow Afghans in ending the atrocities was incredible. Despite lack of human resources and a collapsed economic apparatus, Taliban tried to run the country through their own means. Ms. Deborah also conveyed the message of the Taliban that the international media is disseminating misinformation regarding Afghan affairs and shares false and fake news to defame the Taliban, which she also endorsed. Owing to the prevalent situations, and a looming severe economic crisis, she requested the members of UNSC in the following words:
“UNAMA, to date, has taken all conceivable measures to inject liquidity into the economy, including the physical import of cash. UNAMA, together with the UN partners and the World Bank, is seeking to establish — on a temporary basis I want to emphasize — a humanitarian exchange facility to allow a scale-up in humanitarian programming, which as you all know is badly needed in this coming year, and also will provide access to US dollars to legitimate businesses to enable them to import goods and allow the supply chain to function once again. We will continue to engage with the Central Bank and the de facto authorities on this facility and with Member States on further support to the banking sector.”
Another opportunity for the Taliban government is the recent agreement signed between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan to build a railway track. Costing 5 billion US dollars, this track has all the potential to make Afghanistan a hub of transit trade. The construction of Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Railway will connect Central Asia to South Asia and that will definitely help Afghanistan to resuscitate their economy, create employment opportunities and expand their businesses throughout these countries. In this connection, opening of various trade routes with Pakistan, e.g. Bin-Shahi pass in Lower Dir, Nawa Pass and Ghakhi Pass in Bajaur, and Durah and Broghal passes in Chitral, along with already operational trade routes will considerably help Afghan government and the people to stand on their own feet. Pakistan is the easiest and the most feasible market for Afghanistan. People-to-people contacts between Pakistan and Afghanistan have always helped the two countries to come closer and bridge the gap of mistrust.
Moreover, the reports of former government officials and politicians gradually returning to Afghanistan are heartening for the Taliban. The expertise of these people will definitely help the Taliban to restructure the Afghan social, economic and political fabric. Furthermore, the approval of federal budget of Afghanistan, worth 231 billion Afghanis, which depends upon domestic revenue with just 44 billion deficit, is another great news for the Afghan Taliban, provided they persistently focuses on streamlining the economy and curbing the black-market economy.
Since the Taliban are in the good books of China, they should also try to reap benefits of Chinese economic projects under the mega OBOR project, with special focus on formulating strategies for social, economic, infrastructural and industrial development of Afghanistan. The provinces of Asmar, Kunar, Badakhshan and others, which are adjacent to the Durand Line, are feasible for connecting with CPEC and other umbrella projects.
To cut the story short, Taliban government has many opportunities to exploit in the near future. But, for that, they will have to shun the traditional approach of seeing the world from their own myopic lens. They must allow Afghan men and women to play their best role for uplifting Afghanistan and their own lives. Broad spectrum Sharia compliance instead of traditional theocracy should be their guiding principle as it does not stop any one from playing a proactive role in construction and development of his/her homeland. By adopting this strategy, the international community will surely recognize their government and the issue of legitimacy will be solved, once and for all. Many international humanitarian and charity organizations are anxiously waiting to help the devastated Afghans in these hard times, but they want the Taliban to fulfil their vows and promises made with the international community.

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

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