The Taliban is celebrating its second anniversary of coming back to power with a public holiday, marking the capture of Kabul and the creation of what it called security throughout the country under an ‘Islamic system’. ‘We congratulate the mujahid nation of Afghanistan on the second anniversary of the liberation of Kabul and ask them to thank Almighty Allah for this great blessing,’ the Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement on Tuesday. ‘Now the country is safe, united, and ruled by Sharia, Mujahid said.
Security was high in Kabul on Tuesday as soldiers increased patrols. Taliban members gathered at Massoud Square near the empty US embassy building. Some of them carried their weapons, while others took selfies with songs playing and boys selling the white flag of the Taliban with the Islamic creed on it. In Herat in the west, a crowd of Taliban supporters shouted: ‘Death to the Europeans, death to the Westerners, long live the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, death to the Americans.’ A military parade was called off in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement, where its secretive supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhunzada, rules by decree. Akhunzada cancelled the parade himself to avoid disturbing the public, provincial officials told reporters.
The Taliban government has not been formally recognised by any country. The international community is still struggling with how, and whether, to deal with the Taliban authorities. The Taliban entered the capital on August 15, 2021, as the US-backed president, Ashraf Ghani, escaped and the Afghan security forces, which had received years of Western support, collapsed. The US-led foreign forces were withdrawing after 20 years of futile war. Afghanistan is experiencing peace not seen in decades, but the UN says there have been dozens of attacks on civilians, some claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) armed group.
Many countries with a majority of Muslims and Islamic scholars have disagreed with the Taliban’s position on women’s rights. Some Taliban leaders support education for women, with a senior leader saying that Islam gives women the right to education and work. The Taliban expects that this progress will help them gain foreign recognition and the removal of sanctions, and the release of about $7bn in central bank assets that were frozen in the US Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2021 after they took over, half of which was later transferred to a Swiss trust.
The UN special representative said that the corruption that increased as Western money flowed in for years after the Taliban was overthrown in 2001, has been reduced. There are also indications that a Taliban ban on narcotics cultivation has significantly reduced poppy production in what has been the world’s largest source of opium for years. But a group of UN experts criticised the Taliban authorities on Monday for promising a softer rule than during their first time in power from 1996 to 2001. ‘The facts on the ground have shown an accelerated, systematic, and all-encompassing system of segregation, marginalisation and persecution, despite reassurances by the Taliban de facto authorities that any restrictions, especially in terms of access to education would be temporary,’ the experts said in a statement. ‘The gap between promises and practices by Afghanistan’s de facto authorities has widened, and the idea of a ‘reformed’ Taliban has been proven wrong,’ they added.