Afghan Taliban: A threat to Human rights in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Security

On December 18, 2022, the detained TTP militants attacked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) amidst border tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan were high. They managed to escape the lockups, held security personnel hostage, and demanded their safe exit to Kabul, Afghanistan. To end their standoff with the TTP, Pakistani authorities opened negotiations. Later, the Special Services Group (SSG) of the Pakistani Army conducted an operation against the militants (33 in total), during which two soldiers were killed while the CTD compound was cleared. The Taliban are well-positioned to take advantage of regional players’ worries about the threat of terrorism spreading from Afghanistan. Due to the increase in terrorist activities by Taliban extremists, neighboring countries like Russia, China, and Pakistan are extremely concerned about their security.

Between 2007 and 2014, the TTP was active throughout Pakistan, carrying out hundreds of terrorist attacks that resulted in the indiscriminate deaths of 80,000 Pakistanis, including women, children, and security personnel. After operation Zarb-e-Azb in 2014, The TTP group’s leaders fled Pakistan for Afghanistan and were reorganized there.

On August 15, 2021, the TTP fundamentalist retook control of Afghanistan, deposing the U.S.-backed Kabul government that had been in place since 2001. A spate of retaliatory murders started. The Taliban declared the country’s interim government in September 2021. Serious breaches of international humanitarian law, such as war crimes, as well as other grave abuses of human rights, have been observed with impunity. Killings committed deliberately and randomly reached record highs. A New York Times investigation found that in just the first six months of power, the Taliban killed/abducted nearly 500 former government officials and members of the Afghan security forces. Additionally, terrorist attacks like the alleged Islamic State-perpetrated bombings of a mosque in Kabul in August 2022 and the Russian Embassy in September 2022 continue to pose a serious threat to Afghan citizens.

The UN Human Rights Council acknowledged the gravity of the situation during its fifty-first session (12 September–7 October 2022), which focused on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan. The Taliban and non-state actors frequently target human rights advocates, women activists, journalists, health care and humanitarian workers, as well as religious and racial minorities. Additionally, torture, collective punishment, and forced relocation are still being practiced today. Afghanistan pleaded with the Council to create a strong system of national accountability.

Similarly, Afghan women and children, especially girls, have witnessed their rights disappear in front of them after two decades of toil. Young girls’ aspirations for the future have been crushed. Women’s rights advancements and media freedom, two of the most significant successes of the post-2001 development efforts, are instantaneously reversed by the Taliban. Women are not allowed to work in the majority of government positions or many other fields, and the majority of secondary schools for girls are closed now.

The subsequent collapse of the economy and the country’s isolation from the rest of the world has also exacerbated the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban. The Afghan economy has been devastated by sanctions and the cessation of significant development aid. Afghans are consequently dealing with the worst cascading and compounding humanitarian crisis ever. The United Nations made its largest single-country aid appeal in history in January 2022 to raise money for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. In the meantime, almost the entire population is suffering from hunger due to the economic crisis.

The $4.4 billion Afghanistan 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan is the largest ever created for a single nation. Over 3.5 million children needed assistance with nutrition treatment by March 2022, and 95% of Afghan households did not have enough food. “On the brink of famine” by August 2022 for six million people the afghan population is now more vulnerable to food shortages due to climate change. The situation has increased the frequency and severity of natural disasters and extreme weather. Flaming heat waves and ostentatious flooding have destroyed crops and arable land. Chary on top of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has caused food costs in Afghanistan to rise as well.

It seems evident that the Taliban have breached the 2020 Doha Agreement. The Pakistani government’s efforts in peace talks and the Afghan Taliban’s assurance that TTP will cease its terrorist activity against Pakistan all went in vain. Terrorist activities in various parts of Pakistan have increased. The recent attack in the Bannu district is a clear personification. Afghan neighboring countries, seeking security promises from the Taliban are now expected to enter into some kind of collective solution for the lasting peace and security of Afghanistan people and the region in large. 

Qura tul ain Hafeez
Qura tul ain Hafeez
Qura tul ain Hafeez is a research scholar at the School of Politics and International Relations, QAU, Islamabad.