Afgh Taliban

Under Taliban, Lives Of Ex-Afgh Security Forces Under Grave Threat

In Afghanistan, the Taliban continue to torture and detainment forcefully security officials who had worked under the previous government, because of which the life of these officials has become miserable, according to a report in the Afghan Diaspora Network (ADN).

The Taliban took over Afghanistan after US and NATO forces left in August 2021. Several reports and incidents of killings, torture, and forced detainment of security officials who had worked under the previous government have been observed, because of which the life of these officials has become miserable, says the report.
All these incidents are the result of retaliatory revenge that the Taliban is trying to assert on these former officials from the Afghan police, army, intelligence, and militias that were fending off the Taliban with the help of NATO forces says the author of ADN report, Elhamudin Afghan.

Many of these former defence officials were successfully able to flee Afghanistan as they were well connected to officials in the US and NATO forces. At present many of these security officials who have escaped have settled in western countries or have crossed the border and reached Iran. However, those who were unsuccessful in leaving Afghanistan when the Taliban took over in 2021 are now bearing the brunt.

For the past two weeks, there have been daily reports of killings in the eastern region of Nangarhar province. ADN reported quoting Radio Azadi which reported that the bodies of six people associated with the former government were found in different areas of Jalalabad City. Much like what happened in Eastern Nangarhar, in Kabul, an elite forces soldier of the former government was killed along with his two brothers and his cousin in recent weeks, the report mentioned.

ADN reported quoting a November 2021 Human Rights Watch report to state that the Taliban had killed more than 100 of these former Afghan defence officials within just three months of their takeover of Afghanistan’s Ghazni, Helmand, Kunduz, and Kandahar provinces.

During that time Afghan social media users shared many graphic videos of torture and killings done by the Taliban to grab the attention of the western forces. It is pertinent to say that no government has yet recognized the Taliban’s government.

Locals of Eastern Nuristan province said that the district officials of the Taliban in Laghman province have arrested, tortured, and then killed in September this year, Bahrumudin Nuristani who was a commander in the previous Afghan army in the Mandol district.

People in the Mandol and Doaba districts of Nuristan province demanded a probe into Nuristani’s murder. ADN reported quoting a BBC report that the Taliban had admitted that Nuristani was arrested and later died in Taliban’s detention.

ADN took interviews of two members of the former Afghan security forces- Shawkat Tareen and Abdullah Bawar – both pseudonyms used by the writer to hide the identities for security reasons.

Tareen recalled the day when the Taliban took over, a day that he and all his colleagues cried. That day people from the Taliban tore Afghan flags, scattered papers, and insulted them. And now they have no hope for life as they are now suffering, he was quoted as saying.

“I remember that, on the day of the regime’s fall, most of the soldiers cried. The Taliban pulled down our national flag, scattered our papers, and insulted us. This is our terrible memory. Now we have no hope in life because we are suffering,” Tareen said.

The former Afghan official said that he now has neither physical, mental, social, nor economic security, he is currently unemployed, depressed, and can sleep only with the help of sleeping pills.

He also pointed out that he was frightened about hearing that four of his former colleagues had died between Iran and Turkey on the road to Europe and that his two daughters are suffering under the Taliban regime, which has banned girls from attending schools beyond the sixth class.

Similarly, another security official from Eastern Laghman province quoted in the ADN report states he was detained but released in August 2021. He said in the interview given to ADN that he now does not believe that he will be able to see an organized military for Afghanistan and added that if he gets a chance he will flee Afghanistan.

The ADN report points out that in recent months, Afghan social media users have started a campaign to gain the attention of Western countries that had been engaged in Afghanistan, begging them to save the lives of former Afghan security forces stuck in Afghanistan. (ANI)

Read More: https://lokmarg.com/

Pak Records 51% Terror Attack In One Year Taliban Got Power In Afgh

Due to the rising power of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Pakistani soil has witnessed a 51 percent increase in the number of terrorist attacks in the last year, Islamabad-based think tank, Pak Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS) findings revealed on Wednesday.

As a result of the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan in August last year, followed by Taliban capture, as many as 433 people were killed and 719 injured in 250 attacks in Pakistan till August 2022, Dawn reported citing the data published by the think tank.
Pakistan also witnessed 165 attacks that killed 294 people and wounded 598 others from August 2020 to August 14, 2021.

“The mindless jubilation over Taliban victory is now turning into a rude shock because the evolving security situation under the erratic Taliban rule indicates Pakistan is about to face yet another ordeal viz-a-viz terrorism,” the think-tank said.

Notably, the terror outfits with active presence in Afghanistan include Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Al-Qaeda, Islamic State in Khorasan (IS-K), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), and East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), according to Dawn.

Quoting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the think tank reported that more than 300,000 Afghans have fled to Pakistan since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

In the latest findings, two papers were released which evaluated the withdrawal of US forces from the war-torn country and its impact on Pakistan in terms of terrorist violence as well as cross-border movements that are taking place due to the rise in terrorist activities in the region.

The data revealed that Pakistani authorities claim that about 60,000 to 70,000 Afghans entered Pakistan since August last year.

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, which was widely celebrated in Pakistan in August last year, has worsened the terror situation in the country.

In 2021, militants, mainly belonging to the Pakistani Taliban, killed 48 policemen and injured 44 others in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Most of the violent incidents took place in the last few months of the year (after the Taliban takeover).

Despite repeated attempts, Pakistan has been unable to get firm guarantees from the Afghan Taliban that they would take action against the Pakistani Taliban operating in Afghanistan.

Taliban also refuses to accept the Durand Line as the boundary between the two countries. (ANI)

Read More:https://lokmarg.com/

Afghanistan: Blast Occurs At Mosque Near Taliban-Run Interior Ministry

As Afghanistan continues to witness a surge in bombings, a blast was reported at a mosque near the office of the Taliban-led Ministry of Interior (MoI) on Wednesday, media reports stated citing a Taliban spokesperson.

Taliban spokesperson Abdul Nafai Takor provided the information pertaining to the blast and added that an investigation is underway into the incident, reported Tolo News.
So far, there are no additional details on the explosion and the casualties. The Taliban officials have yet to issue a statement on the blast.

Earlier, on Monday, just days after the Kabul education centre blast killed over 40 people, an explosion occurred in the western part of the Afghan capital, targeting another Hazara-populated area.

The explosion occurred near the Pul-e-Sukhta area near the Shahid Mazari Road, The Khaama Press news agency reported. The blast happened in the west of Kabul’s PD 6 at around 2:00 pm, the report added.

The blast that took place in the Shaheed Mazari area is reportedly a Hazara-populated area. However, there are no additional inputs on the blast.

United Nations over the Kabul education centre blast said that at least 46 girls and young women were among the 53 people killed in last Friday’s blast at the education centre in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul.

On Saturday, dozens of women from the minority Hazara community protested in Kabul against the terror attack at the Kaaj Educational Centre. The women protestors dressed in black chanted slogans against the genocide of minorities and demanded their rights, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

This series of blasts come as the Taliban completed one year of its rule in Afghanistan following the ouster of the US-backed civilian government last year. Rights groups said the Taliban had broken multiple pledges to respect human and women’s rights. (ANI)

Read More:https://lokmarg.com/

Pakistan's total debt

Taliban Bans Use Of Pak Currency In Afghanistan

In a significant escalation of ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Taliban has banned the use of Pakistani rupees in Afghanistan.

The ban on the Pakistani currency came into effect on Saturday, October 1, Afghan news agency Khaama Press reported.
It said the Taliban Intelligence Agency declared that the use of Pakistani rupees in financial transactions in Afghanistan has been “completely banned.”

This order was conveyed by the Taliban agency’s anti-money laundering branch to the money exchange association. According to this order, all financial transactions, including but not limited to transfers, trade, and currency exchange, are disallowed.

The report said money exchange dealers are banned from conducting transactions totaling more than 500,000 rupees. If more than the specified amount is discovered, the dealers could face legal action.

The Khaama report said this move comes at a time when some locals and traders in Afghanistan use Pakistani Rupees for everyday spending and food purchases.

Since the Taliban seized power in August last year, the relationship between the two sides has soured for several reasons, including increasing border clashes and the re-emergence of outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Pakistan.

Recently, the Taliban had accused Pakistan of permitting its air space to be used by US drones to strike targets in the landlocked country.

Taliban claimed that Pakistan has received a whopping sum of money for allowing the US airstrikes in Afghanistan and added that they have substantial evidence to back their claims.

On July 31, the United States conducted a precision counterterrorism strike in Afghanistan that killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy and successor as leader of Al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has blamed the Taliban regime for the resumption of attacks by the TTP, which has aggravated the security situation in the country. Media reports said that the highest number of terror incidents in Pakistan in a single month this year was recorded in September. (ANI)

Read More:https://lokmarg.com/

Afghanistan Taliban

Taliban Denies Threat Of Terrorism Still Exists In Afghanistan

Responding to concerns expressed by countries at the 77th UNGA session over the terrorism threat still emanating from Afghanistan, the Taliban said that the allegations were baseless.

“These concerns, based on incorrect information and sources, are being brought up as the relevant parties are yet to hand over the seat of Afghanistan at the United Nations to its rightful legal and political owners, the Afghan government,” read a statement from Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
Some countries, including the United States and Pakistan, expressed concerns at the 77th session of UNGA that the threat of terrorism still exists in Afghanistan.

The Taliban further stated that if the group will be considered the legal and political owners of the Afghan government, it will open an opportunity to share ground realities of Afghanistan with the region directly and world countries and address any concerns.

“The Islamic Emirate once again rejects such assertions and reiterates its position to the world: the territory of Afghanistan will not be used against any other country, nor does any armed group currently have a presence in Afghanistan. Rather than raising unsubstantiated concerns and allegations, the world should engage positively with the Islamic Emirate by sharing their views and concerns directly, and not through the media or public statements,” added the statement.

The Taliban launched an offensive against the democratically elected Afghan government last year after the Biden administration announced the end of its military presence in Afghanistan.

On August 15, 2021, the Taliban swept into Kabul without encountering any resistance and gained complete control over the Afghan capital. Later in September, the Taliban declared a complete victory in Afghanistan and formed an interim government, which hasn’t yet been officially recognized by any country.

Since its ascent to power in Kabul, the Islamic group imposed policies severely restricting basic rights–particularly those of women and girls.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Taliban dismissed all women from leadership posts in the civil service and prohibited girls in most provinces from attending secondary school.

Taliban decrees prohibit women from travelling unless accompanied by a male relative and require women’s faces to be covered in public–including women TV newscasters.

The Taliban have also censored, limited critical reporting, and beaten journalists. Taliban forces have carried out revenge killings and enforced disappearances of former government officials and security force personnel. They have summarily executed people deemed affiliated with the Islamic State.

Armed groups linked to the Afghan branch of the Islamic State have carried out bombings targeting ethnic Hazaras, Afghan Shias, Sufis, and others, killing and injuring hundreds. (ANI)

Read More:https://lokmarg.com/

Taliban Decried Globally For Closing Paktia Girls’ Schools

The Taliban were publicly criticized globally for closing the girls’ schools in Paktia after a brief opening.

It sparked severe reactions inside and outside of Afghanistan. On Saturday, dozens of girls took to the streets in the centre of Paktia to protest the closing of their schools, reported Tolo News.
The videos of the protests went viral on social media and triggered strong reactions by the Afghan public as well as famous politicians and human rights defenders.

“The fight of Afghan girls/women for the right to education is important for the entire humanity because gender apartheid and contraction of freedom in one country can have fallout for the rest of humanity,” said Afrasiab Khattak, a former Pakistani senator and analyst of regional affairs.

Earlier, some girls’ schools above grade 6 in the province had been reopened due to a decision by tribal elders and local educational officials. Still, the schools were closed again, reported Tolo News.

“The fight of Afghan girls/women for the right to education is important for the entire humanity because gender apartheid and contraction of freedom in one country can have fallout for the rest of humanity,” said Afrasiab Khattak, a former Pakistani senator and analyst of regional affairs.

The founder and head of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), Mazoor Pastheen, said that Saturday’s protest for educational rights by the girls in Paktia is praiseworthy, reported Tolo News.

“In the 21st century, the Afghan girls are being deprived of education by force,” he said.

Nazar Mohammad Motmaeen, head of the Afghan National Olympic Committee, on Twitter criticized the closure of schools and said there has yet to be a decision about whether to close or reopen the schools for girls, reported Tolo News.

Heather Barr, director of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch said on Twitter that the “Taliban just shut down girls’ schools in Paktia–after community members pushed for them to open. What will the HRC do? We want a much tougher UN action on accountability.”

Several human rights and education activists had urged world leaders in an open letter recently to mount diplomatic pressure on the Taliban to reopen secondary schools for girls in the war-torn country as the Taliban’s brutal regime in Afghanistan will soon complete a year in August.

Young girls and women have been compromising with their aspirations for almost 300 days since their development was distorted. The activists added that if this situation persists, their aims and hopes will suffer greatly, reported Khaama Press.

World leaders, regional allies, and international organizations were urged in the letter to take serious actions to fulfil their commitments in order to promote and protect Afghan girls’ rights, especially the right to education which was snatched away from them after the Taliban-led Afghan government banned the education for girls in classes 6 and above. (ANI)

Taliban Pushing Itself Into A Corner

The latest international conference to discuss the evolving situation in Afghanistan and also review the response of the neighbouring and regional countries to the latest Taliban decisions, took place in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, last week.

National security advisors from Tajikistan, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and China, with Pakistan abstaining – as it currently has no NSA, attended the Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan.

It is believed that all the NSAs highlighted the need to find constructive ways to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan and combating risks from terrorism emanating from the region and particularly ensure that Afghanistan doesn’t become a terror hub again.

This has been a primary concern for India since the Taliban took over the country, besides the rights of Afghan citizens, especially women and minorities. India has already closed down its diplomatic missions in Afghanistan, which the Taliban keenly wants to be reopened.

The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) at the meeting said certain countries in the region and beyond are transferring Takfiri terrorists to Afghanistan, Ali Shamkhani said terrorism and extremism are among the main causes of insecurity in Afghanistan.

Talibani Diktats

However, what concerns the international community more is the series of Talibani diktats on social issues, targeting women and specific Muslim sects in particular.

On May 9, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) ordered women and older girls to cover their faces when in public. The order further said that punishments for violating the decree would be inflicted on their male family members. Taliban leaders responded to public outcry by insisting that the decree is not mandatory, but so far their own enforcement efforts contradict those statements.

Further, on May 21, the IEA’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue ordered all women television presenters to cover their faces, stating “the decision was final and that there was no room for discussion.”

Heather Barr of the Human Rights Watch described these new diktats as blatantly violating women’s rights to freedom of expression, as well as personal autonomy and religious belief.

ALSO READ: UN Envoy Calls Upon Taliban To Allow Girls’ Education

In response to the order, male presenters at several major news channels in Afghanistan started wearing face masks on air in solidarity with their female colleagues – an act that prompted the #FreeHerFace campaign on social media. As one women’s rights activist wrote, “Afghan men showing up for Afghan women is not just a gesture. It’s a turn in the story that will change everything. Brave brothers.”

This latest order is part of a steady flow of Taliban actions that have blocked girls’ secondary education, pushed women out of most employment, curtailed women’s freedom of movement, obstructed women’s access to health care, and abolished the system designed to protect women and girls from violence.

They have gradually imposed more restrictions on Afghan women and Shia community. After banning them from acquiring certain government jobs, getting education, and travelling alone outside their cities, they have now ordered them to wear the burqa or to cover themselves from head to toe in public.

Talibani Rationale

All these developments perplexes one to wonder as to why the Taliban-led IEA is hell-bent on imposing those restrictions, which were introduced in its earlier stint also and to which they had vowed not to revert again.

It seems that Taliban have no intentions of transforming them into a modern-day political entity and change their views. In fact they have slowly started implementing their real agenda, based on skewed political motives and controversial ideological beliefs.

Afghanistan of present might become a nation with contradictory notions of personal freedom as viewed by them in contrast to internationally recognised definition of personal freedom. They very well understand that international recognition will bind them to certain western norms and obligations, on human rights in particular, and as those would completely contradict their self-defined ideology or interpretation of Islam, they are ready to ignore it for the time being. 

They might have thought that they would be able to deceive the international community by making shallow promises regarding female education and introducing an inclusive political structure. With US unfreezing their sovereign funds and after some key Islamic states formally recognised them, they would go about enforcing their actual agenda.

The international observers’ hope was that the members of the Afghan Delegation based in Doha-Qatar might be able to influence their counterparts in Afghanistan, to follow the international demands. But in reality these moderate elements were sidelined in the new government and the hawks amongst them took control based on their ideological beliefs. Justifying their initial actions, some supporters pointed that their conservative mindset would take time to adjust to global realities. But the truth is that they have even failed to address the security concerns of their immediate neighbours.

So far they have even been unable to control the militant Islamic organisations like ISIS-Khorasan, which is present in some key Afghan provinces. This inaction on their behalf gives goose bumps to their immediate and regional neighbours, both. Similarly, they have been unable to reign-in Tehreek-i Taliban Pakistan, which in fact enjoys full support of the IEA regime.

The irony is that Taliban’s supporters, who were sincerely ready to offer them a second chance are dismayed by the double meaning actions or inactions by the IEA, as it puts the future of a vast majority of common Afghani on the block and does not bode well for the country’s future. Besides pushing those supporters into a tight corner.

(Asad Mirza is a political commentator based in New Delhi. He writes on issues related to Muslims, education, geopolitics and interfaith)

Future Of Afghanistan

The Taliban have once again captured the power in Afghanistan. In one of the swiftest operations the Taliban took control of all major cities including Kabul within a ten-days period. This feat has however, put them in a tight bind on whether to continue with their old traits or try to portray a new picture of the Taliban, which has moved along with the world in the last 20 years and one which is more pragmatic and tolerant and most of all which is politically savvy not violence prone.

A widely held belief is that the Taliban would like to be seen as more pragmatic and inclusive force rather than the one, which brutally ruled Afghanistan earlier. Whatsoever be the case, it would be reckoned by the group’s attitudes towards jihadists and other militants present in Afghanistan, ethnic and religious minorities, women and governance.

Future Government

It has been a week since the Taliban captured the national capital but they are yet to announce any government and its structure. This has led to speculations that intense political activities are going on behind the scenes and the world is waiting with bated breath to know the outcome. In the meantime Taliban have tried to calm concerns about their rule by urging women to join a government that has yet to be formed, declaring an amnesty for people employed by the former government or US and other foreign forces. To assuage these feelings, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in May that the group, once in power, would write laws to ensure the participation of women in public life.

However, reports from Kabul indicate that the former president Hamid Karzai and former minister of external affairs Abdullah Abdullah are still present in the city. This leads credence to the fact that any future government might be based on Islamic foundations but it might be an amalgamation of Islamic and liberal democratic principles.

ALSO READ: Taliban In Frame, Afghanistan In Flames

Karzai and Taliban’s current supremo Haibatullah Akhundzade are relatives and belong to the Popalzai tribe, tracing their lineage to the Durrani clan. So in a possible scenario Haibatullah might lead the Islamic Council, wielding control and power, as in the past and Karzai might be named as the president or prime minister of the new government, in which Abdullah Abdullah might also be included. In addition, non-Taliban leaders like Hizb-i Islami’s Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and former deputy president Karim Khalili might also be included in the new setup.

Further, we also have to take into consideration the rise of young blood amongst the Taliban ranks. Figures such as Mulla Yaqoob, son of former Taliban supremo Mulla Umar now leads its military branch and is credited with the swift capture of power in the country with less bloodshed. This young generation is tech and media savvy, many Taliban leaders now announce the latest developments on Twitter. Coupled with this the Taliban delegation, which took part in the Doha talks, has experienced exposure to the liberal views and they might be more amenable to a not strictly Islamic form of government. As far as the role of Taliban is concerned, they were accepted as an important political force when the former American president invited them to the Doha Talks, lending credence to them as a group, which needs to be engaged with for any feasible solution of the on-going war.

Afghanistan’s Mineral Wealth

The Taliban’s resurgence has once again brought renewed focus on Afghanistan’s vast untapped mineral wealth and resources that could transform its economic prospects if developed judiciously. Some conspiracy theories circulated earlier, which claimed that behind the on-going military campaign in Afghanistan, the American experts were also exploring the mineral deposits in Afghanistan.

Lending credence to these theories, CNN on 17 Aug. carried a story, which said that Afghanistan possesses mineral deposits worth nearly $1 trillion. Iron, copper and gold deposits are scattered across provinces. There are also rare earth minerals and, perhaps most importantly, what could be one of the world’s biggest deposits of lithium — an essential but scarce component in rechargeable batteries and other technologies vital to tackling the climate crisis.

Said Mirzad former head of the Afghanistan Geological Survey told Science magazine in 2010 that if Afghanistan has a few years of calm, allowing the development of its mineral resources, it could become one of the richest countries in the region within a decade.

Three countries, which have been wooing the Taliban based on this assessment, are Iran, China and India. All of them could provide the expertise, infrastructure and labour force for the further prospecting, mining and processing of these minerals.

Iran and China have been early starters in this regard. Iran has been hosting Taliban delegations to Teheran since last year and in late July 2021, before the recent developments, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with a delegation led by the head of the Afghan Taliban political committee Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Tianjin.

India on its part began engaging with the Taliban leaders in Doha since September 2020 when the intra-Afghan dialogue began even as New Delhi refused to spell out its policy clearly and said it continues to engage with “all stakeholders”.

Afghan Psyche

Before commenting on the future of Afghanistan, we have to understand the geographic location, socio-cultural fabric and the internal forces, besides the Afghan psyche, all of which have always managed to play a key role in any political activity in the country.

The tribal Pashtun population of Afghanistan, which approximately is 42% has always enjoyed political influence both at the local and national stage. The Pashtun by virtue of being the largest tribe in the south and east has always dominated the national politics of Afghanistan, since the time of Ahmad Shah Durrani (1722-72).

Moreover, the central authority in Kabul has always governed the country through a loosely federal structure. Which means that the central law was more or less observed in major cities and some smaller cities, but at the district and village level the tribal writ was imposed with a heavy hand.

ALSO READ: Understanding The Resurgent Taliban

Added to this is the overall Afghan psyche, which has always remained fiercely independent and loyal to its tribal and clan ties besides being devout Muslims. To control them through a loose federal system remains the only wise choice, so as to let the tribal and clan ties continue and dominate the rural population but the major decisions are taken by the powers in the big cities.

This might be one of the reasons, which is forcing Taliban to evolve a government, which rules with an iron fist from the centre but at the village and district level the local tribes manage their affairs in their own style whilst participating in the development of the rural areas and the country as a whole.

Completely Changed in Afghanistan

‘Taliban Says Nice Things On TV, Do The Opposite On Ground’

Nasima Ahmadi, 32, a Hazara Afghan from Mazar-i-Sharif came to Delhi when her city was surrounded by Taliban gunmen last month. Ahmadi says she cannot think of a dignified life under Taliban rule

I belong to Shia Hazara community in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan. Last month, the city was surrounded by Taliban gunmen and they were close to capture it. Desperate to leave Mazar-i-Sharif before the violence reached us, we applied for Indian medical visa. While I manage to bring my two children and in-laws here to Delhi, my own parents are still there and I fear for them.

In the one month that I am here in Bhogal (South Delhi) the situation is completely changed in Afghanistan. Of whatever little I have spoken to my family back in Afghanistan, the situation is not what the TV channels are showing. The Taliban militia forcibly enter into people’s houses at night, and conduct ruthless searches… I wonder what they are looking for. They also take away young girls with them at gunpoint and these women are never heard of again. One of my own uncles has been killed by the Taliban.

On TV, the Taliban leaders say girls can go to schools and study, they can take up a job, there are no restrictions… this and that. But they are telling blatant lies. Girls are not allowed to go to school, nor work. And our community (Shia Hazaras) faces the harshest persecution.

Our only crime is that we belong to the Hazara community. Can you imagine belonging to a community being a crime in any other part of the world? We cannot go to Afghanistan now; Hazaras cannot think of a life under Taliban rule.

ALSO READ: ‘Talibans Are Savage, I Fear For My Family In Afghanistan’

When the Taliban was in power last time in the late 1990s and we were in Afghanistan, the situation was horrible. The Taliban barred schooling for women. That is why I couldn’t get a proper education. That is why I always wanted to provide good education to my children. After the Taliban was rooted out of power, the situation started to improve and life got better for the common man. Now when the barbarians are back in power, the horror has returned to Afghanistan.

There is nothing worse than having forced to leave one’s homeland. We had constructed a new house recently but had to leave everything behind. We could only bring our savings and some clothes. We don’t know now if the house is abandoned. What keeps us going is our resolve to find a better life for our children.

There are only two more months before our visa expires, and we have been going to various embassies in New Delhi for help and asylum. We haven’t been able to get any help so far though. Everyone gives us an email id and asks us to send our details, problem and why we want a visa. I recently went to the American Embassy for help too. We are trying to get a visa so we can go to the US.

My husband is employed in Dubai. So I have to do the running around here to find a safe shelter for my children and family. If nothing happens in the next two months that our visa for India holds, I do not know what shall be our status. I request everyone reading this to help the displaced Afghans.

(The picture is representational as Ahmadi declined to share her photograph for safety reasons)

As Told To Mamta Sharma

Taliban In Frame, Afghanistan In Flames, India In Firing Range

Buzkashi, the national game of the people of Afghanistan, has horsemen competing to possess the headless body of a goat. In one of the world’s most enduring ironies, the country has itself become the goat, being dragged and tossed around. A horrified world watches as an elected government is losing out to the Taliban, a group of women-hating men poised to take control.

They have rendered impotent and helpless the outsiders, all powerful, that have been either backing them diplomatically and militarily, or opposing them meekly, with wordy resolutions.

It happened to the British and the Russians and now, it is the Americans. The unprecedented turn of events has yet again shown that Afghanistan cannot be controlled from outside. Even before the United States ends its longest war by this month-end, the Taliban are knocking at the gates of Kabul, poised to win this round of what has been gamely called the “Great Game”.

The Game’s original players, erstwhile imperial powers Britain and Russia, now pale shadows of themselves, are riding piggy-back on the United States and China respectively. As the US departs, yet dominates the global discourse, the ascending player is China. Sadly, the global line-up the two lead, guarantees more violence and bloodshed for the Afghan people.

This round unfolds without a political solution that the US naively sought, signing a deeply flawed Doha Agreement of February 2020. It gave the Taliban primacy and legitimacy, without securing an end to the conflict and certainly, to terrorism. Now, since everybody is talking, the world is witnessing a collective shedding of crocodile tears.

The only thing that seems certain is prolonged violence. A UN report says 6,000 fighters of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban and along with thousands of ‘volunteers’ from many countries. The Pentagon has woken up to the presence of “terrorist safe havens” on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Time will tell who has played what role and why.

All this does remind of the past – except that the world’s most powerful nation, having conceded ground, both territorially and tactically, is left conducting aerial operations from outside. Signals from Washington, as it licks its wounds worse than in Vietnam of the 1970s, are that this may not continue after August 30. The Afghans will be left on their own – abandoned to their bloody fate.

ALSO READ: A Resurgent Taliban In India’s Backyard

If this sounds like a diatribe, well, it is, against all those who had begun with lofty ideas at the 2001 Bonn Conference to facilitate a moderate regime in Kabul. Two decades hence, a war-weary Joe Biden confirms what George Bush Jr. said in 2002, that “nation building” was never the aim in Afghanistan. The Afghans, then, have a valid question: why are/were they there?

India was not alone in 2003, when its External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha lobbied with the US against a military campaign in Iraq. But they persisted, with a patently false excuse that Saddam Husain had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) which were never found. Super-confident after removing the Taliban from Kabul in response to 9/11, Bush Jr. needed to avenge his father’s humiliation at not being re-elected America’s President.

The Iraq campaign badly distracted Afghanistan’s. Its consequences are now clearly visible. Eighteen years hence, by end-2021, the US military will quit Iraq. Meanwhile, in addition to Al Qaida, another Frankestein has been created in the Islamic State (IS).

Again, India was not alone when its then National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon pleaded against the US announcing a firm date to withdraw from Afghanistan. The Pakistan-hosted Taliban would merely “sit out”, Menon had warned. That, and worse has happened since Donald Trump struck a deal with yesterday’s ‘terrorists’ and ‘insurgents’, bypassing the US-supported and US-dependent government in Kabul. That hit the credibility of all those in the world community who supported the “global war on terror” in Afghanistan.

To put it bluntly, this is America’s hubris. Its failure to see where the Taliban, ousted from Kabul, had moved to was compounded by failure/unwillingness to touch them. It was satisfied getting Osama Bin Laden. It kept deluding itself, and the world, in seeking to separate the ‘good’ Taliban from the ‘bad’. To cover up its own failure at the eleventh hour, it expected everyone else to seek an “Afghan-led, Afghan owned” political solution. Nobody asked why the Taliban would want it.

This is a lesson for Big Powers: you can light a fire in any corner of the world, but cannot douse it. Taliban became ‘good’ since they are not supposed to have ambitions outside of Afghanistan. But what about Al Qaida and the IS? Will the Big powers return to Afghanistan, Iraq or any other place if they perceive a new global threat? Someone has aptly said that those who do not learn from past mistakes are doomed to repeat them.

Of the others, if China is ambitious in Afghanistan, Russia and Iran are being plain opportunistic. The hapless Central Asians must seek American, Chinese or Russian help to fend off a resurgence in Islamist extremism at home that a Taliban triumph guarantees.

India is again on the wrong side, like it was when the Russians left and now, when the Americans are leaving. It invested three billion dollars and earned goodwill. Will it now be India’s fate to “do more” in Afghanistan at the US’s behest, to compete with China and Pakistan?

That, of course, will depend upon how the Kabul-Delhi equations develop. A furious debate has ensued if India should talk to the Taliban and whether Taliban are interested in talking to the Indians, when they have support of India’s regional adversaries. Otherwise supportive of the present government, Vivek Katju, an old Af-Pak hand and envoy to Kabul, calls it “policy paralysis”.

ALSO READ: Four Lakh Displaced As Taliban Advances

Conventional wisdom is that a ‘friendly’ government in Kabul would mark Pakistan’s victory. But it will prove Pyrrhic, what with flow of refugees, drugs and arms. It successfully hoodwinked the West while benefiting from them militarily and materially, nurtured the Taliban and calibrated their across–the-border operations and backed them in negotiations. Islamabad’s more important move, however, is effectively shifting a part of its allegiance from West to China.

Not a factor before, China is now the region’s strongest power-player, with global reach. Beijing has embraced the Taliban diplomatically and as reports indicate, also militarily. It is poised to extend the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan. China gains greater access to the Indian Ocean and to the Gulf, through Iran. Not just geopolitics, geo-economics is also at work.

Now, the fast-shifting ground situation. The Taliban have played their military card commendably by seeking to eliminate the re-emergence of the Northern Alliance that had helped the US remove them from Kabul in 2001. They have captured huge territory and some of the provincial capitals from Herat in the west to Badakhshan in the north and closed the gates for any external intervention on the ground.

But it’s not going to be easy. Embedded in their campaign are seeds of resistance from ethnic minorities who will fight for sheer survival, and not just against Pashtun domination. It’s life-and-death for the Uzbeks and Tajiks, who are in significant numbers and the Hazaras who, as Shias, are traditional Pashtun targets. Battles are likely to be fought for long for control of the cities and the countryside.

It is almost certain that a government, if born out of Taliban’s military victory, will face economic sanctions. Without hand-holding, Afghanistan is bound to suffer. Besides political instability, economic misery will worsen, not to speak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some questions for the near-future: how long and to what effect will the threatened sanctions work? As had happened with the Myanmar military junta, will biggies of the world engage in behind-the-scene engagements to guard their business interests? Not to forget, a Taliban mission operated in Washington till 9/11 happened, because the US wanted to guard its interest in Afghan and Central Asian oil and gas reserves.

How will the Islamic world respond to the near-certain birth, or re-birth, of the Islamic Emirate? Now that the West has taken a beating, will the definition of terrorism change? What will be the new global security threat perceptions and how will they be responded to?

The new chapter of ‘Great Game’ has more questions than answers. Not the least, the fate of that Buzkashi’s goat.

The writer is co-author, with late Sreedhar, of Afghan Turmoil: Changing Equations (Oxford Books, 1988) and Afghan Buzkashi: Great Game & Gamesmen (Wordsmiths, 2000). He can be reached at mahendraved07@gmail.com