Mainstream Weekly

Home > 2024 > Afghanistan: Abandoned by the World | Apratim Mukarji

Afghanistan: Abandoned by the World | Apratim Mukarji

Saturday 24 February 2024, by Apratim Mukarji


The world’s most dangerous terrorists, the Taliban, are now in the third year of their illegitimate rule over Afghanistan, and their connectivity with the outside world is rising constantly. “The world has abandoned us,” says a prominent Afghan rights activist after escaping to the West.

Since August 2021 when the Taliban, originally raised and nurtured by the United States and Pakistan and sheltered in the latter country, have travelled a long way to have become the rulers of a country and are now tackling the continuing refusal by the international community to recognize them while, at the same time, indefatigably constricting human rights inside the country. Right from the beginning, their main target has been girls and women, and squeezing them further till the very bottom of torture is reached.

Recently, a high functionary of the ruling group said that even 9-year-old girls were physically ready for sexual intercourse and were hence ready for marriage. Girls as young as 16 have been arrested for wearing a ‘bad hijab’ (a proper hijab, according to the government’s diktat, is one that covers everything in a girl’s or woman’s body except her eyes) in classes, markets and on streets. The charge against them is that they are guilty of “spreading and encouraging others to wear bad hijabs and wearing make-up. The government decree is that women must be covered from head to toe except their eyes. While outside home, they must be accompanied by male family members. This particular decree has jeopardized thousands of women who are widows and live alone. Sometime back, a widow living alone went out of home to purchase medicine for herself but she was intercepted on her way and imprisoned.

“The international community’s response to Afghanistan’s ongoing humanitarian crisis is “confused” and requires a wholesale “rethink,” said Hasina Safi, the prominent and the country’s last woman minister for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs Safi told Al Jazeera in an interview in Belfast last October that many Afghans now felt “abandoned” and “forgotten” by the international community. After the Taliban retook Afghanistan, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was abolished and replaced by the Ministry of Guidance and Preaching. She pointed out that Western powers seem to have forgotten the many pledges they took to restore and protect human rights in the country since, following the Taliban takeover on 15 August, 2021, the American and British troops withdrew. “The international community do not know what to do. They should now respond with concrete and practical responses. There are conferences, there are events, there are various kinds of programmes. But there is no practical result that can help the disappointment inside Afghanistan for those who are at risk and deprived.”

Safi pointed out that a number of decrees issued by the Taliban authorities was being considered guilty of violating of international human rights principles. The situation was very disappointing. Day by day, instead of introducing mechanism or coordination in finding support for the people, there are decrees, there are directives ---one after the other. “Sometine these are about the clothes they wear, sometimes they are about make-up, or about their mobility outside their homes. I will not say there is a sense of abandonment. There is abandonment. Period.”

Higher education denied

For the third year in a row, Afghan girls are being forced to stop after they pass out of the sixth grade in school. Bahara Rustam, 13, took her last class Bibi Razia School on December 11, 2023 knowing it was the end of her education. Under the Taliban rule, she is unlikely to step foot in a classroom again. A month after they took over rule in Afghanistan, the Taliban announced that girls would not be permitted to study further. In December, 2022, this ban was extended to cover even universities; and today, a whole generation of women is being denied access to education save up to the sixth grade in school. Recently, news came that the Taliban were diverting girls to religious schools, but there was no verification and the United Nations said it was trying to ascertain if this news was correct. If this turns out to be really true, a further calamity would descend on Afghanistan. In mid-December the United Nations special envoy Roza Otumbayeva expressed concern that of Afghan girls was falling behind “with each days that passes.” Aroubnd that time, an official in the Afghanistan Education Ministry said that Afghan girls of all ages were being allowed to study in religious schools known as madrassas, which had been traditionally boys-only. Amu TV reported last December that Sheikh Idris,”a great devil of the Haqqana Lawat Khana (Haqqani Madrassa) says, ‘In Afghanistan, I told the powerful leaders of the Taliban to buikld many madrassas and reduce modern science ; they also listened to my words carefully and happily.’ However, it is unclear if these schools are still sticking to secular lessons like science.

On January 12, the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Congress examined the Biden administration’s policy for Afghanistan since the withdrawal of American troops after the ingress by the Taliban on August 15, 2021. The head of the Committee Michael McCall described the Taliban as “terrorists” and remarked that the situation was deteriorating steadily. The Congress members criticized the special US representative for Afghanistan for allowing funds to roll into Afghanistan even after the Taliban were now running the country and that they had already benefitted by the enormous amounts and quantities of modern weapons and equipment abandoned by the Afghan defence forces. The proceedings of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Congress shows quite convincingly that Americans are much bothered by the rising power of the Taliban and that their main objective now is to acquire new friends to facilitate their further strengthening of rule over the country.

Meanwhile, discordant voices are being increasingly heard from inside and outside Afghanistan. An American intelligence input that the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) is planning to attack the United States,. <ost views expressed on X tend to ridicule the intelligence but there are also Afghans who have utilized the opportunity to express their intense hatred for the US. This discordance has also been reflected at a higher level where this national discordance is again seen. Mirwais Azizi, a wealthy industrialist, is planning to invst US $ 10 billion in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. He recently posted his plan on X. “During my trip to Afghanistan I promised to my compatriots that I will be by their side in these difficult situations of the country. Specifically, I said I want to invest ten billion dollars by the Azizi Company in the next five years., which will be focused on energy production and transmission. It is worth noting that in the field of energy, the goal will be to produce 5,000 to 6,000 megawatts of electricity and in the firEld of transmission, the construction of railway lines will lead to the growth of trade and economic activity. As part of this programme, 100,000 Afghans will be given jobs and millions more will benefit indirectly, In order to discuss these goals and necessary assessments, technical teams will travel to Afghanistan in the near future so that necessary actions can be taken.”

While such investments should bring some economic relief to the harassed Afghans, the basic problem is that such private investments also help the terrorist government to strengthen its control over the country and also their legitimacy. It is important to remember that the Taliban government is now actively campaigning for foreign investment in the country, a task in which China has been participating enthusiastically. This is also the reason why the government is planning to join President Xi Jinping’s pet Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

While the world has clearly abandoned Afghanistan along with its population, the terrorist Taliban are advancing rapidly towards their goal of growing connectivity with that very world. More national airlines are opening operations to and from Kabul. Even India is being accused to be gradually “warming” up to the Taliban government. The prospects definitely look bleak for the freedom lovers in Afghanistan, though the National Resistance Force is maintaining its guerrilla battle with the Taliban but the impact is carefully hidden from the external world.

(Author: Apratim Mukarji has authored his latest book, Return of the Taliban State, Society and Terror)

ISSN (Mainstream Online) : 2582-7316 | Privacy Policy|
Notice: Mainstream Weekly appears online only.