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World What we know about the Taliban's political agenda

08:50  25 september  2021
08:50  25 september  2021 Source:   afp.com

The world should not yet engage with the new Taliban government

  The world should not yet engage with the new Taliban government The Taliban must guarantee that it will respect our human rights before gaining widespread international recognition.I did not want to leave, but I had no choice. Soon after the Taliban assumed control of the capital city, its fighters started to look for me. They showed up at my house (which I had already left in fear of my safety) and harassed my family members and people working for me. They beat up my security guards and violently interrogated people who know me in an effort to find me.

A month after seizing power following a lightning offensive in Afghanistan, the Taliban this week completed their interim government -- but their political agenda is still unclear. The lack of clarity is fuelling concern among Afghans and the international community that the hardline Islamists are heading towards imposing the same brutal policies against women and opponents seen in their previous rule between 1996 and 2001. While much remains opaque, here is what we know about their political programme so far.

The Taliban , or "students" in the Pashto language, emerged in the early 1990 s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. It is believed that the predominantly Pashtun movement first appeared in religious seminaries - mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia - which preached The promise made by the Taliban - in Pashtun areas straddling Pakistan and Afghanistan - was to restore peace and security and enforce their own austere version of Sharia, or Islamic law, once in power. From south-western Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly extended their influence.

A month after seizing power following a lightning offensive in Afghanistan, the Taliban this week completed their interim government -- but their political agenda is still unclear.

While promising a more inclusive government, the Taliban have handed top posts to veteran, hardline leaders © Aamir QURESHI While promising a more inclusive government, the Taliban have handed top posts to veteran, hardline leaders The Taliban say music is forbidden in Islam © AREF KARIMI The Taliban say music is forbidden in Islam

The lack of clarity is fuelling concern among Afghans and the international community that the hardline Islamists are heading towards imposing the same brutal policies against women and opponents seen in their previous rule between 1996 and 2001.

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Here's what you need to know about the Taliban ' s leadership structure, their history and what to expect from their new reign. The Taliban has suggested it will be inclusive when it takes back control of the country, observers are less confident. The political branch of the Taliban that represents the group internationally is based in Doha, Qatar. It is led by Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. This subset of the group is the one that has handled peace negotiations with the US , for example (more on that below), with Mullah Abdul Hakim at the head of the negotiating table.

The Taliban ’ s roots are in the Deobandi movement. Deobandism began as a seminary in the town of Deoband in India (from which it takes its name) around 150 years ago. John Mohammed Butt, an Islamic scholar, broadcaster and the first Westerner to graduate from the Darul Uloom Deoband in India, explains how it was The Taliban use Deobandi, but they also do many things that would violate the Deobandi world view to achieve their other political objectives. “I don’t think there is a sophisticated thinking in terms of systemic implementation of Deobandi world view with regards to Taliban ,” he says.

While much remains opaque, here is what we know about their political programme so far.

- Women's rights -

This is one of the most eagerly awaited areas of Taliban policy.

How the all-male leadership treat women is expected to be critical to any resumption of suspended Western economic aid on which the country depends.

Since their return to power on August 15, the group have said they will respect women's rights in accordance with Islamic sharia law, without elaborating. During their last rule, women were forced to wear all-covering burqas, and barred from work or study except in rare circumstances.

The Taliban must transform from insurgency into governing power © Hoshang Hashimi The Taliban must transform from insurgency into governing power

Most have been told not to return to work until the Taliban have ironed out "new systems", while some are staying home out of fear of future reprisal attacks for being a working woman.

Ghost towns and old men in Afghanistan's Panjshir

  Ghost towns and old men in Afghanistan's Panjshir Fighters in Afghanistan's Panjshir vowed to battle the Taliban to the last man, but nearly two weeks after the hardline Islamists celebrated victory, parts of the rugged valley lie empty and abandoned. Several Panjshir leaders, including Ahmad Massoud -- the son of the late veteran fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud -- vowed never to surrender to the Taliban. © Wakil Kohsar The evidence of Panjshir's resistance can be seen in the twisted and charred remains of Taliban armoured vehicles and pickups They put up some fight, with the evidence of their resistance in the twisted and charred remains of Taliban armoured vehicles and pickups.

The Taliban ’ s swift advance came as the United States prepared to withdraw the last of its troops, though some American soldiers were sent from elsewhere in the region to protect the U . S . Embassy and a Kabul airport over the weekend. Negotiators representing the national government were in talks with the Taliban ’ s political leadership Sunday about an agreement on a transitional administration. The 13 U . S . service members killed: What we know about the military victims of the Kabul airport blast. More stories. Taliban co-founder reemerges to challenge reports of internal strife among militants.

A top Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai has said that the group wants to continue political and economic ties with India. In a televised speech, Stanikzai said India is an important country in the region and that Afghanistan under Taliban would like continue its relationship with India. It was unclear whether the comments made by Stanikzai reflected Taliban ' s official position. However Stanikzai, who is a passout of Indian Military Academy, had earlier also reached out to India requesting for retaining of its diplomatic staff in Kabul after Taliban takoever. Stanikzai however did not address

Girls are allowed to go to primary school but have been excluded from secondary school.

The Taliban says the measures are temporary, but many are distrustful of the group.

Afghan women studying at private universities can return to single-sex classrooms with strict conservative rules imposed on attire.

- Press freedom -

Upon taking power, the Taliban said journalists -- including women -- can continue to work.

"We will respect freedom of the press because media reporting will be useful to society and will be able to help correct the leaders' errors," a Taliban spokesman told Reporters Without Borders.

A month later, the tone has changed. According to RSF, the group have imposed 11 rules on Afghan journalists that they must now obey.

One of them is a ban on broadcasting "material contrary to Islam" or considered "insulting to public figures".

The rules could be used for the persecution of journalists and open the door to censorship, RSF said.

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  Taliban replaces ministry for women with ‘guidance’ ministry A new sign outside the Women’s Affairs Ministry announced it was now the ‘Ministry for Preaching and Guidance’.It was the latest troubling sign that the Taliban is restricting women’s rights as they settle into government, just a month since they overran the capital Kabul. In their first period of rule in the 1990s, the Taliban denied girls and women the right to education and barred them from public life.

Taliban , ultraconservative political and religious faction that emerged in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s following the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the collapse of Afghanistan’s communist regime, and the subsequent breakdown in civil order. Learn more about the Taliban in this article. World opinion, however, largely disapproved of the Taliban ’ s social policies —including the near-total exclusion of women from public life (including employment and education), the systematic destruction of non-Islamic artistic relics (as occurred in the town of Bamiyan ), and the implementation of harsh criminal

image captionThe Taliban now control more territory in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001. For the first time in 18 years, the US government seems serious about withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan and winding up the longest war in its history. Since October, US officials and But the US - Taliban talks in Qatar' s capital, Doha - as well as intra-Afghan dialogue involving the insurgents and some Afghan officials - are only the first phase of a complicated process with an uncertain outcome - and there are many hurdles to overcome. media captionIs peace with the Taliban possible?

Even before the announcement of these new guidelines in mid-September, many journalists had fled the country.

Those who were unable to leave remain in hiding at home for fear of reprisals.

Some Afghan journalists were briefly arrested or beaten on the sidelines of recent anti-Taliban protests.

- Culture -

During their first stint in power, the Taliban were infamous for their strict interpretation of sharia law, banning music, photography, television, and even children's games such as kite-flying.

The group dynamited giant Buddha statues at Bamiyan months before they were ousted from power.

This time, the Taliban have yet to issue official decrees regarding entertainment and culture.

"Music is forbidden in Islam," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the New York Times last month.

Music schools have closed and some players have smashed their instruments.

Libraries, museums and galleries are also shuttered, with heritage experts deeply concerned about whether ancient artifacts will be protected and access to literature allowed.

Taliban accused of killing civilians as Afghans face tough realities of militant rule

  Taliban accused of killing civilians as Afghans face tough realities of militant rule Two weeks after announcing their Cabinet, the Taliban are showing the people of Afghanistan and the world how they intend to rule: with "no mercy".The Taliban have also ordered people from their homes to make way for their fighters and are accused of intimidating humanitarian workers trying to administer much-needed aid.

- Economy -

This is one of the most pressing challenges the new regime will have to tackle.

Afghanistan is facing a financial crisis following the takeover, with much of the international aid that had propped up the economy frozen.

The Taliban's economic programme is still extremely vague.

"We are going to be working on our natural resources and our resources in order to revitalise our economy," Mujahid said.

But it remains to be seen how the Taliban will find the funds to pay civil servants' salaries -- or to support critical infrastructure to keep the lights on, water running and telecommunications working.

In the midst of a liquidity crisis and at a time when the population was already struggling to make ends meet, the movement said it had turned the page on corruption, which tainted the previous government.

- Security and drugs -

Many Afghans have reported an increased sense of security since the Taliban took over and fighting ended.

But it has moved to crush dissent, breaking up protests led mainly by women by firing shots into the air and later effectively banning all demonstrations.

The Taliban have also warned that "anyone who tries to start an insurgency will be hit hard", a message to resistance forces in Panjshir, who were defeated earlier this month.

They have also said they would eradicate the local branch of jihadist group Islamic State, which has claimed a number of bomb attacks over the past few weeks.

As for drugs, Taliban spokesperson Mujahid promised that the new government would not turn Afghanistan, the world's leading producer of opium, into a real narco-state.

- Sport -

Certain sports were allowed under the Taliban's first government, but they were strictly controlled and only men could play or attend matches.

The new sports chief of the Taliban government, Bashir Ahmad Rustamzai, said they would allow around 400 sports "permitted by the laws of Islam" -- but declined to clarify if women could participate in any of them.

The statements of other Taliban members sowed confusion, leaving sportswomen and the country's athletes fearing a step backwards.

Some of them have already fled and found refuge abroad.

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