From the fall of Kabul to the lack of governance
On August 15, 2021, a significant event happened in Afghanistan as the Taliban reclaimed power, ushering in a series of changes that have reverberated throughout the lives of the Afghan people. This moment was marked by an announcement from the Taliban's spokesperson, Zahibullah Mujahid, who conveyed a message of “newfound openness and inclusivity”. At the end of August 2021, the Taliban assured the Afghans of their intention to permit women to engage in employment and pursue education, while also pledging to establish a secure environment for all citizens. These proclamations stood as promises, for the dawn of a new era.
However, as the sands of time have settled over the past two years, a disconcerting pattern of contradiction and regression has emerged. Despite the initial assurances, the Taliban's stance on various matters, particularly those concerning the rights of women and girls, has taken an alarming and regressive turn. The once-promised opportunity for girls to access education has eroded, replaced by a prohibition that casts a shadow over the prospects of an entire generation. Similarly, the promise of women's participation in public life has given way to a restrictive mandate, confining them within their households, with a mandatory male guardian acting as their contact to the outside world.
Compounding the concern is the ruthless pursuit of former government officials and military personnel associated with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. These individuals now find themselves subjected to a relentless campaign of persecution, punishment, and even extrajudicial execution. The record, documented by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), tallies at least 237 instances of such extrajudicial executions from August 2021 to June 2022, painting a grim picture of the unraveling situation.
While certain aspects of the current situation show a modicum of improvement, including a relative reduction in terrorist attacks and a calmer environment compared to two years prior, the reality remains fraught with challenges.
Furthermore, Afghanistan finds itself ensnared in a complex web of international isolation and economic turmoil, precipitated by the events of August 2021. These circumstances have pushed the nation further into poverty, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis. Next to that, the relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan has been more unstable lately, because of a surge in armed attacks on Pakistani soil by a Taliban-related terrorist group.
This tension has spurred high-ranking Pakistani officials to voice their concerns, attributing the escalation to the perceived lack of decisive action by the ruling Taliban administration in curtailing the movement of armed groups across the border. In response, the Taliban spokesperson rebuffed these assertions, positing that Pakistani authorities are prone to blame Afghans, rather than fortifying their security apparatus.
With the Taliban in power, Afghanistan has also become a playground for other terrorist groups like ISIS, because of the freedom that they have in Afghanistan.
It is uncertain what the future of Afghanistan will look like. However, it is likely that the Taliban will not remain in power. Their lack of recognition on the international stage, coupled with their limited experience in governance, raises significant doubts about their ability to effectively lead a nation. Furthermore, there are concerns that the already fragile Afghan economy could face further deterioration under their rule. It is not surprising that a military group like the Taliban is not proficient in governing a country.
There is a likelihood that Afghanistan will fall back to its tribal roots and conflicts and that the Taliban will lose control of the provinces. Infighting within the Taliban is also not unthinkable as there are individuals who want more power, there is a discussion on how strict the Taliban rules should be and there is uncertainty on how to deal with economic and diplomatic problems.