~ By Akash Khemka
In the city of Kabul, high above the chaos and far from the noise of war but where dusk is deceptively peaceful, there is a vast city of Taliban. So have you ever thought of what life is like in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban? Well, the Taliban in Afghanistan was originally born out of Pakistan’s Inner Services Intelligent Agency which trained, funded and equipped the terrorist organization.
In 1996, the Taliban seized the Afghanistan capital of Kabul and instituted an Islamic theocratic dictatorship. The reign was marked by human trafficking, brutality towards women and mass killing of the Afghan population. They ruled until 2001, when the United States (US) invaded Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11.
Role of US in Afghan Governance
Over the next few years, former member regrouped into an insurgency and by 2006, was fighting full force against the US-backed Afghan Government. As a terrorist group, the Taliban primarily targeted Afghan people accounting for the death of more than three-quarters of the population. Hundreds of suicide bombing killed Afghan troops as the Taliban continue to regain followers and influence. The strong push saw the Taliban re-enter in a number of cities.
The thing about the Taliban is that you can travel there for miles without seeing an armed person because it’s more the idea of the Taliban that dominates there rather than their presence. The fact that people can’t use mobiles, play instruments or watch movies or if they do, they get 40 lashes but still after all these laws, people do feel secure under the Taliban.
Analysing Afghan’s future after US retreats
There is an analysis in Afghanistan that the Taliban’s success is not due to them being very strict but it’s due to governance being poor especially in the rural areas and that gives Taliban an edge and also policies such as not stopping populaces, this makes people comfortable because it’s in their interest that the Taliban’s ideas ride over government’s ideology because then government would eradicate their populaces.
Today, despite the growing influence and capture of visitors, Taliban leaders have promoted the idea of peace talks in order to get foreign forces out of Afghanistan. As US troops leave, many are questioning how long Afghanistan will stay under the control of ally local forces before following back into the hands of the Taliban. Many US officials want peace that is worthy of the sacrifices that has been made for the past 17 years. A meaning especially that Afghanistan does not become a platform for international terrorism against the US. The talks also ask Taliban to agree to a ceasefire to deal directly with the Afghan Government, something they have refused to do. Lately, Taliban attacks have intensified in a bid to gain leverage in the talks.
Challenges against Afghan’s Political Future
So how complicated would that be when the Afghan Government will start to talk about what they want? One of the challenges in identifying where this is really going to go is that none of the sides in the conflict have really articulated what their vision is for future Afghanistan. A vision that could win the support of the broad range of Afghan people. There is a vague indication on the Taliban side of what they are looking for- an Islamic form of government or a new constitution perhaps, but they have not articulated a fully-fledged vision of the political future of Afghanistan.
And similarly on the Afghan Government side, they have so far maintained adherence to what they have now but they haven’t articulated the set of compromises that they might offer.
Pakistan’s Influence in Taliban
Another key player in this conflict in Pakistan. And Pakistan’s influence was indirect in these talks. So what role will they play to reach an eventual settlement? Pakistan was also one actor in this overall conflict that has not articulated what their vision is for future Afghanistan.
They want an Afghanistan that is not hospitable to Indian influences rather than keeping it towards their own Islamic influences. Recently, Pakistan’s Prime Minister-Foreign Affair Advisor Sartaj Aziz opened the meeting saying the primary goal should be to convince Taliban to come to the table and consider giving up violence.
Negotiation over Peace
So what is needed for a peace treaty? Or how should peace be negotiated? Everybody wants peace in Afghanistan but probably the Afghans and all the International communities want a responsible withdrawal agreement that would look over all the rights of citizens of Afghanistan. And it’s more of a responsibility of the International community to make sure that it happens.