Two years have been passed and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – a nomenclature given to the Taliban fundamentalists’ regime in Kabul – has not yet been formally recognized by a single member of the international community.
Getting recognition from the international community is the biggest challenge for the Islamic fundamentalists’ regime since returning to power in August 2021 after dislodging Dr Ashraf Ghani government after two decades of sustained insurgency.
However, the major achievement so far realized and duly recognized by the international community and political opponents of the fundamentalist regime, is stabilizing war-torn Afghanistan and, apparently, putting an end to the conflicts and internecine wars spreading over four decades.
In a recent discussion with a senior official of the Islamic Emirate, I got convinced its leadership in Kabul sincerely wanted to address the issues which are of sensitive nature for the international community. However, the major challenge or hurdle, faced by the Kabul administration, particularly on issues related to women, is to convince what they called “the elders” or the conservative senior leadership based in Kandahar.
“It doesn’t mean the ‘Elders’ are stubborn or not flexible on these issues but it’s a matter of understanding,” the official said.
It’s a fact these conservative elders have spent their lives teaching religious courses in seminaries. They have hardly been ever exposed to the outside world and have indeed negligible understanding of governance in the modern era. Whenever the conservative fundamentalists’ elders – who are still holding enough sway on policies of the regime – have been approached to be convinced on issues like women’s education and employment they immediately refer to the Quran and books of hadiths or fiqahs. Here no one can argue further. “They are really very simple and honest.” And perceive the demands of the international community to give freedom to women to get modern education and employment as against the religious teachings and local tribal culture.
Taliban who are predominantly the ethnic Pashtun returned to power after waging 20 years of successful insurgency against the former administrations of Hamid Karzai and Dr Ashraf Ghani – backed by the world’s best armies, at one time, drawn from 51 NATO and other partner nations under the banner of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force). In war and conflict history, ISAF mission is considered one of the largest and challenging operation consisting of more than 130,000 well-trained troops equipped with the world’s best war machinery.
Proving itself as a battle-hardened formidable force against the opponents, the Taliban militia signed a peace deal with the US administration after protracted negotiations in Doha – capital of Qatar. As result of the Doha peace agreement once all the international troops including the Americans withdrew and left Afghanistan, Taliban’s takeover of Kabul turned out to be walk in the park.
No doubt, Doha agreement has led to the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan; however, it inflated the egos of the militia members who entered Kabul as victors perceiving the chaotic withdrawal of US troops as a defeat of ‘another’ superpower. This has further toughened the perceptions and set of beliefs of the fundamentalists’ militia – predominantly consisting of students or teachers from religious seminaries located in areas across the Pak-Afghan border with little exposure to the outside world.
This is now a major dilemma for the moderates amongst the fundamentalist militia particularly those who negotiated peace deal with the US and made commitments like protecting and promoting human rights, upholding women rights, ensuring press freedom, forming an all-inclusive government and granting amnesty to opponents and government functionaries.
Once in power the immediate challenges for the Islamist militia was to establish a central authority, stabilize the war-ravaged country and deal with the regional and international terrorists’ networks operating from within Afghanistan. Except for reigning in on the regional terrorist’s outfits, the Taliban have easily overcome the rest of the listed challenges.
The Islamic Emirate majorly faltered on the issues of human rights, women rights and establishment of all-inclusive administration. Failures on fulfilling these commitments not only distanced the international community from the IEA but also exposed the internal discords between the ultra conservatives and moderates in its leadership.
The world fraternity has put on hold the recognition of the regime, despite, establishing a central authority; exercising full control over the entire Afghanistan. And has conditioned the Emirate recognition to the fulfillment of commitments made in Doha agreements regarding human rights, women issues and inclusive government.
A wide friction existed particularly on policies related to women amongst the ultra conservatives – led by supreme leader Mulla Hibatullah Akhund and the spirituals advisors based in Kandahar – and the moderates running the current administration in Kabul.
Insiders say the situation has also led to the emergence of a third group the ‘fence sitters’ – whose majority are inclined towards the Kandahari conservatives currently exercising more control and authority on the ranks of the militia. They will have no issue even if the other side prevailed.
The major challenge for the Islamic Emirate leadership is getting out of the jehadi mood. However, it’s not an easy affair. Spending decades in fighting jehad as a religious duty, this has been deeply engraved on their minds and souls. It will take time and definitely lots of hard work to change this frame of mind and make them accept that their new responsibilities are now to govern the state.
No doubt, to break the international isolation the Islamic regime need to expedite efforts and show tangible progress on addressing these issues which are of very sensitive nature for to the international community.
The Islamic Emirate shall realize the fact that despite their harsh anti women policies, worst human rights record and formation of an exclusive government in violation of Doha agreement; the international community has still adopted a soft approach and exercising restraints vis a vis Kabul.
The world has been appreciating from time to time the emirate for improving the economy, eradicating the endemic corruption and gaining successes against drugs and poppy cultivation.
Recently, the US special envoy for Afghanistan Tom West resorted to social media and publicly appreciated the Islamic Emirate for taking effective and result oriented steps against opium and poppy cultivation.
“Reports that the Taliban have implemented policies to significantly decrease opium and poppy production this year are credible an important. Every country in the region and beyond has shared interest in Afghanistan free of drugs,” Mr West tweeted.
The writer is a journalist, working with Khyber Tv