Two years of Taliban: A battle for recognition and erosion of women’s rights

Kabul: Even as its close neighbor India celebrated 76 years of Independence this week, Afghanistan continued to mourn the death of its republic for the second year in a row. On August 15, 2021, the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan as American troops withdrew from the country following a 20-year war.

Having enjoyed power from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban — since regaining power in 2021 — seem to have reverted back to its familiar Pashtun-centred rule, with a harsh interpretation of Sharia (Muslim personal law).

Authoritarian policies have returned, according to reports, including restrictions on women, ethnic minorities, media, rights groups and more. The reinstallation of the Ministry for Vice and Virtue – which ruthlessly enforces decrees through public beatings and imprisonment – is just one example.

However, there are some differences in Taliban 2.0, say analysts. These include tensions with its traditional ally Pakistan, being more media and politically “savvy” this time around and the challenge of Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISI-K), a UN-designated terrorist organization.

The Taliban has also placed its own officials in over 14 diplomatic missions across the world such as in Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Russia and China. But this year’s power tussle in the Afghan embassy in Delhi — between the Taliban and Afghanistan’s previous democratic government — shows how it hasn’t been successful everywhere.

The international community remains wary of recognizing the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” under Taliban rule. When it had first come to power in the mid-1990s, only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE had officially recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

This time around, however, no country has recognized the group as such. Many nations though continue to have a presence in Afghanistan, including Western powers. India too has a “technical team” in Kabul, though New Delhi’s approach towards Taliban 2.0 seems a little unclear.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks in April this year about the need for discussions on recognition of Afghanistan’s Taliban government has made the issue all the more murky.

As far as regional consensus goes, Afghanistan continues to be a topic of discussion at groupings such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Fears of the country becoming a breeding ground for terrorism have been shared by most regional players, even Pakistan which is already dealing with the security menace that is the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

There have been calls for India, China, Pakistan, Iran, Russia and others to have a unified approach to Afghanistan but so far, it appears to be a long shot. (Courtesy: The Print)

Afghan caretaker govt declares Aug 15 as ‘victory day’

The Afghan caretaker government has declared August 15, the day of the administration’s takeover of Kabul, as the “victory day” and a public holiday in the war-ravaged country.

“Tuesday, Asad 24, 1402 (August 15 according to the Persian Calendar) is the victory day of the Jihad (holy war) of the people of Afghanistan under the leadership of Islamic Emirate against the United States and its allies. It will be a public holiday in the country,” said a statement released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Image courtesy of United Nations

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