Opinion: Afghan Women hostage under Taliban rule despite promises

New Delhi Published: Oct 22, 2021, 01:22 PM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Story highlights

Beheading of Mahjubin Hakimi, women volleyball player in Kabul has brought to the fore questions on Taliban's intent to follow through on its promises on many things in Afghanistan

Backdrop

Taliban’s foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, in Moscow Format meeting attended by 10 countries, held on October 20, 2021 assured that they have moved as quickly as possible on opening up their government, guaranteeing rights to women and Afghanistan will never allow its soil to be used as a base for anyone to threaten the security of another country. The myth of his statement was broken by another news of beheading of Mahjubin Hakimi, women volleyball player in Kabul, along with their interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani honouring and rewarding the suicide bombers who killed US and Afghan soldiers as ‘Martyrs’ and ‘Heroes of Islam’ in Kabul exposing reality at the same time. The people of Afghanistan especially women, children and minorities continue to suffer despite UN Resolution for their protection.

Realistic to consider Taliban 2.9 moderate?

With announcement of a caretaker government led by 18 UN designated terrorists, 30 Pashtuns out of 33 ministers, Taliban mocked the global community, UNSC, all world players and actors, who were propagating Taliban 2.0 to be moderate and reasonable, hoping for inclusive government. Even the expansion of the caretaker government to 50 ministers, saw no inclusion women and minimal inclusion of some minorities, the ministry of women affairs replaced by ministry of vice and virtue to discipline women. Ban on protests, women sports and scores of restrictions, public hanging, street justice through killings by fighters, are enough indicators of revival of barbaric laws of Taliban of 90s. 
 
The desperate cries of Afghan women and attempts of people to throw babies out of Taliban-controlled land, shamed the world community, finding itself helpless due to varying interests, hiding behind “Wait and Watch” policy. All promises of Taliban leaders that it is moderate Taliban 2021 capable of meeting people's aspirations, stand junked as ‘Shariah Law’-like curbs are back in place, the most disgusting was listing of single girls between 15 to 45 years, to be married to Taliban fighters as reward, amputation on streets for wearing dress of choice, besides not allowing girl children to attend schools so far. Sportswomen have either sought asylum elsewhere or hiding to save their lives. 

Some women did pick up courage to protest, but faced heavy crackdown. All women's activities in the sports, political and social spheres have almost ceased due to security concerns. Even if Taliban leaders pose moderate by falling back on 1964 Constitution, their fighters will not let the leaders settle down for anything less than Shariah Law. It is not possible for their leaders to survive against the wishes of their fighters, because they got into power due to them and the barrels can point them if they try anything else, in fragile Afghanistan. 

Double-gaming the world community

Taliban 2.0 has been trained well by their Pakistani allies in the art of double-gaming the world community. Taliban kept promising its territory not to be used for terror activities against anyone, but it was prompt to release all ISIS cadres from jail the moment it entered Kabul, resulting series of attacks by IS(K) on foreigners, minorities, and innocents. The UN reports and inputs of most countries indicate largest conglomeration of terror groups in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region; hence, the appreciation of Taliban by some countries is politically motivated by their self-interest. Taliban Government itself has enough cadres of Haqqanis, al-Qaeda, ISIS, JeM, LeT and many other terror groups, who keep changing groups to improve their profile in terror industry.  

The anxiety shown by Pakistan to make world recognise Taliban, and China urging to lift sanctions to meet financial needs of Taliban, may well prove to be a bad honeymoon. Taliban will not divorce TTP or ETIM, the impact of which are visible with increased attacks in Pakistan by TTP and will be felt by China, after they recognise the regime as Taliban is smart enough to wait on in exchange for a support from P5 nations. 

Taliban doesn’t mind making false promise of discarding these groups and claim deniability for their action, replicating the model adopted by Pakistan of posing to help US, but helping Taliban simultaneously. Most countries including Russia are interacting with Taliban to prevent export of terrorists and refugees in their areas of interest/territory.

Taliban is threatening of humanitarian crisis if it is isolated or cash strapped, but the origin of this humanitarian crisis is Taliban-Pakistan nexus dislodging an elected government of Afghanistan by force and failing to put up a viable governance structure. The jubilation amongst Taliban and Pakistan of seemingly defeating the most powerful US and allied forces, ‘breaking shackles of slavery’ freedom to form a ‘Government, which is of the terrorists, by the terrorists, and for the terrorists’, has rejuvenated terrorism, fundamentalist ideology and self-belief in victory. The resultant hostage situation of people within, has muted the response of many, who otherwise could have been critical of blatant human right violations, leading to unprecedented human disaster. Notwithstanding this stark reality, the people in Afghanistan are suffering and they can’t be helped unless Taliban is spoken to. It has triggered comity of nations and UN to find out ways and means for delivering humanitarian assistance.     

How to Deliver Humanitarian Aid?

Taliban as per current behaviour doesn’t deserve recognition, legitimacy and a seat in United Nations. US should not open its treasury for Taliban after all the mocking and embarrassment. Last time when it was in power it was recognised only by three countries. 

Humanitarian aid to it should be given in kind through UN agencies and not in cash, which is unlikely to reach the needy people. UN seems blackmailed to be pushing for financial aid to Taliban Government composed of many UN-designated terrorists, keeping humanitarian crisis in forefront or perhaps Chinese pressure? If cash has to be distributed, that too should be delivered through UN Agencies directly to people. Taliban needs to be given a hard choice either to accept these terms or manage the crisis and aftermath by itself and Pakistan offering 5 billion and China offering $31 million worth aid. 

Taliban will have to accept these terms because the converse could be disastrous, as its not a popular regime and humanitarian crisis will soon turn into fresh wave of violence against Taliban and Pakistan. EU is offering one billion euros worth of aid, out of which 346 million euros worth has been sent. Countries offering aid including India (offering food grains and medicines) have to talk to Taliban, but talking does not mean recognition/legitimacy of the regime, which should be made amply clear. 

(Disclaimer: The views of the writer do not represent the views of WION or ZMCL. Nor does WION or ZMCL endorse the views of the writer.)

Major General S B Asthana

The author is a strategic and security analyst, a veteran Infantry General with 40 years of experience in national & international fields and UN. He has been awarded twice by President of India, United Nations, former Prime Minister Moldova and Governor of Haryana. He is currently Chief Instructor at USI of India.

Read in App