By Mahua Venkatesh
Afghanistan, especially its social hue, in the last two decades has dramatically changed, something that the Taliban or even Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that played a key role in government formation in the country after the US troops withdrawal, may not have accounted for.
Foreign policy watchers told India Narrative that the young Afghans – typically those who are in their 20s and 30s– are now used to a different life which has been free, democratic and open.
“For the Taliban, the biggest challenge is to gain acceptability of the people of Afghanistan, who are now used to their freedom and are quite conscious of their rights—men and women both,” one of them said, adding that it may not be easy for the hardline government to manage them even in the medium term.
As the Taliban took control of Kabul, the prominent faces of the outfit including the that of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai among others had portrayed that the second innings of their regime would be a moderate and inclusive one. However, the relatively moderate faces of the Taliban have been conveniently sidelined. Essentially Taliban 2.0 is just a repeat of Taliban 1.0 which is austere and anti-modern. Paksitan’s ultra-conservative Inter Services Intelligence which cut its teeth after former President Zia Ul Haq had instituionalised Islamisation of the military, played a seminal role in yanking back the Taliban into its ultra-orthodox roots. ISI chief Faiz Hameed camped in Kabul to form a “caretaker” government which had the terror tainted and criminalised Haqqani network at its core.
The UN blacklisted Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund-led government has already passed a diktat, asking women to stay at home.
Afghanistan traditionally known for its progressive thinking had granted equality to its women in 1964. Though under the Taliban rule in the 1990s, these rights were snatched away, they were restored in 2004.
“This is a turning point…sooner or later the country will break into a serious civil war…that apart men and women of the country are unlikely to accept the Taliban rule,” the analyst pointed out.
Afghanistan and Afghan women changed over the past two decades, said Ramzia Abdekhil, a university student told Hurriyet Daily News.
“The Taliban should understand this: Today’s Afghanistan is not like the one they ruled 20 years ago. Back then, they did whatever they wanted to do, and we kept silent. Not anymore, we’ll not remain silent. We won’t accept whatever they say, we won’t wear burqas and sit at home,” the newspaper quoted Adbekhil as saying.
Notably, women from across the country have been spearheading protests.
That apart, the world community is closely watching the developments in Afghanistan. Apart from China and Pakistan and a few others, the world community has not come forth in showing their willingness to work with the Taliban.
Several countries in the Middle East that gave immediate recognition to the Taliban last time have also maintained stoic silence.
Not just that. Several of them, including India have made a clear distinction between the people of the country and the Taliban regime.
“In today’s context the Taliban’s calculation may have gone wrong, we will have to carefully watch the situation that unfolds in the next few months,” the analyst said.
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