Afghanistan in isolation



May 22, 2022

Fahad Ali casts a glance at the Afghanistan cut off from the world

The Taliban have pushed Afghanistan in a state of isolation though it could not be said that they did it without knowing what they were doing. The policy of obdurately implementing their peculiar brand of governance they were conveying that they are inflexible as far as the basic tenets of their philosophy of life is concerned. This situation is crystal clear as the Taliban regime is completely free to follow what they believe in and apparently face scant resistance within the country. Similarly there is hardly any foreign resistance to their absolutist rule except freezing of the accounts of the country kept in America. This money was actually held back to use as financial weapon to compel the Taliban regime to ensure equitable treatment meted out to all segments of Afghan social matrix. Initially the Taliban appeared amenable to accommodate what was demanded by different elements of population but they turned around when their funds were frozen and since they began tightening controls over the country.
The Taliban have taken the predictable route of isolating themselves from the international community by doing the opposite of what was expected of them. To begin with, the Taliban rulers stamping religious authority on everyday governance despite resistance from many groups opposed to such stringent rule. They quite angrily decided to renew curbing free movement of women and barred girls from attending schools. They brought back the regulation of veiling women on national level. Though the Taliban appears, at times, reluctant to go the extreme limits of actions primarily due to adverse reaction of international community but they are gradually overcoming this restraint despite the international interlocutors keeping a vigilant tab on their actions.
The Taliban are getting frustrated as there is no sign of international recognition granted to them as rulers. They are therefore steeling themselves up as they are aware by now that such recognition is to be obtained through radically compromising their ideological dogma and that, to them is not possible as they have fought for it for decades. They are aware that their hardline cadre will not accept an iota of change in their belief system and if any divergence from it is noted that they may face stiff and violent reaction. Their religious authority is widely reputed to be an extreme hardliner and would simply not budge from his position. He enjoys widespread acceptability in the Taliban circles for his piety and detachment from mundane worldly affairs and remains based in the traditional base of the Taliban stronghold.
After waiting for getting recognised the Taliban have now started to gradually implement their real agenda, either as a political move or out of ideological beliefs. They began imposing stringent restrictions on Afghani womenfolk as they entertain a highly exclusionist attitude in this respect. They reversed the policy followed by the former government and started banning women from acquiring many government jobs, getting a secondary education and travelling alone outside their cities or Afghanistan. These steps caused uproar in urban areas of Afghanistan where women have become vibrant participants in national mainstream and professional life. Not stopping at that they have now imposed another order asking women to wear the burqa to cover themselves from head to toe in public. This is a sensitive issue for plenty of Afghan women particularly residing in urban centres and pursuing some sort of professional activity. They came out in protest on to the roads by the Taliban regime threatened to use force against them compelling them to withdraw from protesting.
What is becoming clear fast is that the Taliban will find it extremely cumbersome to abide by the understanding they have given to the withdrawing forces from Afghanistan and it is getting obvious that they have no intention to keep their word. Justifying their actions, some might have pointed out 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 neighbours and this is a serious drawback to their competence in governance. The Taliban are apparently engaged in settling issues with their contemporaries who are angry at being treated as inferior citizens. This attitude is clearly arbitrary and runs completely contrary to the policies pursued and implemented by successive Afghan governments since the last two decades. This attitude goes against all accepted norms followed internationally and it appears that the global community finds it prudent to ignore the country simply because they have failed to change the thought-process of the Taliban.
While the Taliban appeared to have tightened their grip on the internal affairs of the country but they are exceedingly unable to counter the threat posed by the militant Islamic State’s Khorasan (IS-K) group that is the primary cause of concern for its neigbours. IS-K follows an extremely radical agenda that is an anathema even to the Taliban but this group is allowed to operate quite freely in Afghanistan. This group has given rise to serious concerns about its intentions and activities in this turbulent time with China, Russia, Pakistan and the Central Asian states expecting that the Taliban regime could prevent IS-K from fulfilling its regional ambitions. The problem however is that despite claims by the Taliban to wipe out the threat of this terrorist group, it is reported to be alive and kicking causing worry in many quarters.
It is also reported that this group has added to the security worries of the Taliban regime as most of the targets of this group are aimed at the Shia community of Afghanistan that are undertaken to be protected by the Taliban as is expected of a regular executive authority of the country. Quite naturally Pakistani authorities are worried about the emergence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan particularly Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that is reported to be secretly collaborating with the Taliban regime and making matters complicated. It is now widely acknowledged in Pakistani circles that TTP is encouraged by some elements of the Taliban regime in Kabul to make things difficult for Pakistan and it is noted accordingly that only in April, TTP carried out as much as 19 attacks on Pakistani soil and the worrying aspect of these attacks was that they were cross-border outrages that caused plenty of harm.
Pakistan’s attempts to convince the Taliban to expel the TTP leadership from Afghanistan have failed to yield any results and things are getting complicated by the day. Pakistani authorities are impressing upon the Taliban to contain this menace otherwise consequences of such actions will be serious enough to disrupt bilateral relations. Pakistan has tried to co-opt tribal jirgas to become the go-between the Pakistani security forces and TTP operating from Afghanistan with the aim to broker some kind of peace. It is indeed worrying to note that even indirect contacts between both the sides have given a kind of legitimacy to the TTP that is encouraging the terrorist group to continue its terrorist operations. The Taliban regime appears to be deliberately ignoring Pakistani requests to rein in the TTP and this attitude is complicating the relationship. Pakistan is trying to economically help Afghanistan but the policy Afghanistan has adopted is definitely going to create more problems and will cause the chaos to spread on a wider scale. TW

Fahad Ali is associated with maritime trade`


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