Frozen economy, confined rights: 10 changes in Afghanistan in 30 days of Taliban rule
It has been a month since the Afghan capital of Kabul fell to the Taliban, following the lightning-fast offensive which won the group control of the state machinery in the war-torn land. Afghanistan watchers and political commentators across the world were stunned by the Taliban blitzkrieg, which coincided with the withdrawal of the United States and allied troops from the country at the end of a nearly 20-year war. The militants made rapid territorial gains in a little over three months' time, as they captured one provincial capital after another; eventually, Kabul fell to the offensive on August 15, 2021.
The sheer tempo of the Taliban takeover surprised many in the international community, and the aftermath reflected widespread domestic and global ramifications regarding human rights and concerns regarding the proliferation of terrorism. The Taliban are now shifting to their roles as the new rulers of Afghanistan, with the insurgents announcing a hardline interim government that betrayed several of their earlier promises to put up a ‘moderate’ face.
Here are 15 of the most important changes that have taken place in Afghanistan in the past 30 days:
1. Curbs on women: Days after winning back power in Afghanistan, the Taliban announced a series of measures reflecting their views on women's rights. There have been reports of women being barred from going to work, and some being beaten in recent weeks for protesting the Taliban rule. A spokesperson from the group also told an Australian broadcaster earlier this month he did not think women would be allowed to play cricket since it was “not necessary” and would be against Islam.
2. Music goes silent: Taliban authorities in Kandahar, the birthplace of the movement, issued a formal order against radio stations playing music. Radio stations have replaced their normal menu of Hindi and Persian pop and call-in shows with sombre patriotic music.
3. ‘Redefining’ culture: Cultural activities are allowed, the Taliban say, so long as they do not go against Sharia law and Afghanistan's Islamic culture. Already, colourful signs outside beauty parlours have been painted over and jeans have been replaced by traditional dress.
4. Resistance rallies in Panjshir: The National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, which groups opposition forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud in the last stronghold of the Panjshir valley, has pledged to continue opposing the Taliban. However, the Taliban offensive against the rebels continues, and the militants have presently taken control of Bazarak, the provincial capital of Panjshir.
5. Taliban lead a hardline government: The Taliban appointed hardline figures to their all-male cabinet in Afghanistan, including multiple senior leaders with millions of dollars worth of US bounties on their heads. The move was widely seen as a signal that they were not looking to present a more ‘tolerant’ face to the world, contrary to former promises.
6. No participation of women in politics, curbs on employment likely: The cabinet appointments announced by the Taliban on September 7 did not include a single woman; nor was there a ministry dedicated to women's welfare and interests. Waheedullah Hashimi, a senior figure in the Taliban close to the leadership, even said that Afghan women should not be allowed to work alongside men. This could effectively bar women from employment in government offices, banks, media companies, and beyond.
7: No protest without permission: Protests against the newfound Taliban regime have grown stronger in Afghanistan, but the rulers keep pushing back, saying they won't tolerate any resistance to their authority. The Taliban have ordered demonstrators to seek permission from the ministry of justice before holding protests. They said that purpose, slogans, place, time and all 'other' details of the protest need to be shared with the government authorities and security agencies.
8. Journalists tortured, slaughtered across Afghanistan: The Taliban continue to violate the basic human rights of media personnel, harassing, torturing, and killing them across Afghanistan. Journalists are scared; feeling hopeless as the spirit of journalism they built in the past two decades is ceasing to exist now.
9. Europe in a fix over migrant crisis: Triggering memories of the 2015 Syrian refugee crisis has forced Greece to seek a potential block on Afghan asylum-seekers as it says Europe must take collective responsibility to resolve the crisis. Greece has said it does not want to turn into Europe's gateway again. Turkish authorities have also stepped up efforts to block any refugee influx into the country.
10. Economic crisis approaching: A month after seizing Kabul, the Taliban face daunting problems as they seek to convert their lightning military victory into a durable peacetime government. Drought and famine are driving thousands from the country to the cities, and the World Food Programme fears food could run out by the end of the month, pushing up to 14 million people to the brink of starvation.