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Taliban in power – one year on

22 4 1

On 15 August 2021, the world looked on with trepidation as the situation in Afghanistan reached a critical juncture with the Afghan Taliban assuming power in the country. The takeover was swift, and relatively peaceful, with little resistance from the masses, followed by the abrupt withdrawal of US forces, leading to a new set of debates and questions. Was this the same Taliban or a different version? What was to be the future of Afghanistan's women? What would be the fate of political opponents who had been seen as advocates of foreign occupation? The answers remain unclear almost a year later. There was little doubt about a Taliban revival with the US exit and in the absence of a negotiated settlement. In fact, a military takeover by the group was almost expected. But the manner and speed with which Afghanistan fell to the Taliban was shocking and unprecedented.

Afghanistan is currently going through one of its most important and critical phases, even when one considers the violence and instability of the last two decades. Since the Taliban's assumption of power, the situation inside Afghanistan resulted in unaddressed questions regarding changes in domestic governance, political freedoms, human rights and especially women's rights, counterterrorism assurances, and the overall commitment to regional peace and stability.

15 August 2022 will mark one year since the Taliban dispensation assumed power. While, initially, there were uncertainties regarding the Taliban's rule, the past one year has somewhat set the tone and is an indication of how the group intends to govern the country. Even within the confines of the current interim set up, the real test for the Taliban is by no means limited to securing power, but revolves around legitimacy, acceptance, performance and of course recognition. The group has been engaging independently as well as through Doha with the international community and regional countries, and while it seeks recognition, present engagement does entail de facto recognition.

Domestically, the group's performance is debatable; however, one has seen an overall improvement in the security of the country with the exception of attacks by transnational terrorist groups like the Islamic State Khorastan Province (ISKP). The group is still trying to consolidate its position and power within its ranks as well as within the country. Governance without a doubt continues to remain a huge challenge, as the group, it seems, does not have the expertise or manpower to run the ministries. This is primarily because the majority of the educated Afghans have left the country. While the group had time and again given assurances that it would work towards the formation of an inclusive political system and has expanded its cabinet to include a few members from other ethnic factions, unfortunately the set-up of a representative political dispensation as the group had claimed is still unfulfilled.........

© Middle East Monitor

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