Mina Widi & Keyoor Pathak
The problematic issue with the rise of the Taliban is not merely its violence, but the idea behind which it demeans the universal democratic value. Afghanistan, the ‘graveyard of civilizations’, has always been a dazzling point for the world for centuries. The external forces always tried to capture Afghanistan because of its natural resources and strategic location. August, 13 added a new chapter in the painful history of Afghanistan and got a different shape with the Taliban takeover in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan and led to the collapse of the democratic government of the time.
Soon after they take over the main cities of Afghanistan and entered the capital; consequently, the president of Afghanistan Mr. Ashraf Ghani left the country on the same day; it is an irony. People of Afghanistan and the global community now believed that the United States of America failed in its mission of democratic nation and state-building (so-called) in Afghanistan. Government institutions closed their doors, countries thought about closing their embassies, and media stopped its usual broadcasting. And thus, a nation falls down. This is the tragedy of Afghanistan. Who is the main culprit for the terrible plight of the people will always be a debatable subject and will be viewed and interpreted in the pursuit of their own interests.
‘Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth’ (Geroge Orwell, 1984)
Afghanistan has been a safe nest for the fundamentalist organizations when the Taliban were ruling the country from 1996 until 2001 and this continued until al-Qaida attacked the twin towers in New York city causing America to enter the territory and sovereignty of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is again at the point when the Taliban are ruling the country and deciding the fortunes of the people using the law of “God” rather than the law of humanity. Some issues are troubling the Taliban and the people of Afghanistan in the current situation, the first is the absence of proper governance, the Taliban are yet to decide the type of regime. Presently, no basic public services are given by the Taliban.
It’s obvious that the Taliban will need the support of the global community and the United Nation to govern Afghanistan, this means they can never make a government until they do not have diplomatic relations with the world. Inside Afghanistan, they too have to face other opposition forces who are in Punjshir a city on the northern side of Kabul, and in some other pockets of Afghanistan, which the Taliban are yet to bring under control. Hence, there is a greater probability of internal massacre and conflict in the region for the sake of power in later years, and finally, it will hamper merely the happiness of common people.
The absence of a proper vision of the Taliban for governing the nation, and the sinister violence that have been induced in the different span of time by them, are actually compelling the people to migrate at a larger scale within and outside the country. This migration is happening across ethnic groups, classes, gender, age, educational groups, and so on. Although people from all socio-economic groups are under severe threat, the question of the issue of human rights specifically of women is of utmost importance. The ‘divine laws Taliban are claiming for, may likely be a tool of subordination of women and other ethnic groups, and hereby half of the Afghani population can lose their freedom and dignity directly. They will have to bear the whim of a fundamentalist power of patriarchy.
Also, it is quite ambiguous that what they mean by the Islamic and sharia law because sharia law itself have different vested interpretations and connotation. And they have not said how they will apply the sharia law universally even to the different Islamic social groups. So, hereby they may violate the Islamic intersectionality too. Apart from Islamic intersectionality, there are other religious groups there, so what about their dignified existence? Any religion-based system can never be justifiable, what will be the space for atheists or other religious believer? They may be the victim of blasphemy or similar laws as is frequently being practiced in Pakistan.
Similarly, the question of women is not merely the question of women, in fact, it is the question of entire humanity, women are directly or indirectly associated with men, so over the issue, there must not be a separate discussion, or one should not leave the issue for some feminists merely. According to a report by Reuters on 22 August, and our personal experience of the country too, Afghan women see no future in Afghanistan. A kind of depressing environment prevails in the country. The public life of the women may be reduced in the name of religion.
Taliban had pledged that the women of Afghanistan will have their rights but within the bounds of Islamic law. Under their last government, the Taliban banned schools for girls. Women could not go outside the home without their male’s consent and barring women from working outside the home. And this is how millions of Afghan women fear living under the control of the Taliban. The Taliban spokesman had promised that the Taliban will let women work outside their houses, but there are reports that the Taliban did not let women enter their work offices and they had asked many women not to leave their homes without a male “guardian”. So, patronage of males may become essential, which itself is a serious sub-ordination.
America has left the country and Mr. Ghani has also shied away from his responsibility; however, the path of the Taliban is not smooth. Nowadays Kabul is witnessing massive protests in various forms. The opponents of the Taliban are rapidly becoming powerful with support from different social groups. People in some regions are fiercely fighting to take power back from the Taliban. On the ground no public services are available, global communities have shut down their financial aids and the people of Afghanistan are facing a profound financial crisis. People are deprived of basic needs like food and fodder. Entire Afghanistan is in a vulnerable situation- it has neither present nor future. The life of the children is at stake along with their parents.
Taliban is facing a diplomatic dilemma because the rest of the world is yet to decide to recognize the Taliban as legitimate power or not. The way by which the Taliban captured the country is still being viewed as a terror process in many of the countries. Even in India, an old trusted ally of Afghanistan, a larger part of the authority is perceiving them as a fundamentalist and anti-democratic power, and this way Afghanistan may be isolated from the rest of the world.
It is a huge crisis if the Taliban are considered as the terrorist groups, not all the countries will build a diplomatic relation with the Taliban government. Russia is also yet to decide whether it should recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government or not. On Thursday last week, G-7 representatives also held a video conference calling upon the Taliban to respect human rights and protect civilians. And above all the larger population of Afghanistan are also not willing to give legitimacy to the Taliban’s theocracy.
They need a democratic and secular state in which all creeds and cults could live together happily. Our experiences of theocratic state illustrate that the human rights issues always have been minimal compared to a secular democratic state; for instance, Iran, Saudi Arabiya, Pakistan, and other nations that run on the laws of God, more or less violate the rights of a massive section of its citizen. Supremacy of one religion or sects by default leads to discrimination towards other sects, religion, gender, or so on. This is the intrinsic problem of a theocratic state. So, we do not need one more theocratic state.
- Mina Widi lives in Kabul, Afghanistan, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keyoor Pathak is associated with Lovely Professional University, Punjab, India. He can be contacted on mail email@example.com