The Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan is still powerful and does not tend to decline soon. Nevertheless, the political situation continues to deteriorate and worsen. Firstly, the primary mentor of the radical ethnopolitical movement using terrorism as a way of political struggle for power is getting less manageable both from the central leadership in Kabul and Kandahar and from the main sponsor and mentor of Pakistan. Islamabad, which is in a deep economic and political crisis, is gradually losing control over the political and military leadership of the Taliban. It is become more frequent when leaders of the radical movement are rude, do not obey, and do not respect the interests of the Pakistani military.
Secondly, there are rising contradictions between various groups within the Taliban. This conflict and competition are still in the initial stage and are manageable, but the trend is negative. Third, the Taliban regime fails to solve the economic and social problems of the state. According to UN research, Afghanistan is on the verge of famine and humanitarian collapse. It is worth noting that during the presence of the United States and NATO in the country, there was no such catastrophic situation. Also, during the period of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the position of terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State has strengthened. The Taliban does not intend to start the fight with the presence of these organizations.
Fourthly, the Taliban tighten repression, regularly does not respect human rights, and harshly cracks down on opponents of their ideology and regime. The Taliban actively and systematically violate the rights of national minorities and women of Afghanistan. UNAMA experts report “arbitrary arrests and detentions of journalists, human rights defenders and protesters.” There were 160 extrajudicial executions, 178 unjustified arrests, and 56 cases of former Afghan military and Government employees being tortured. In addition, 2106 victims were registered among ethnic and religious minorities (700 killed, 1406 wounded).
The day before, the supreme leader of the Taliban movement, emir Hibatullah Akhundzada, announced the liberation of Afghan women from traditional oppression and the return of the position of “free people” to them, the Aljazeera agency reports. The Taliban, according to Akhundzada in his speech on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, has taken “particular measures” to protect the Sharia rights of women and save them from traditional oppression, including forced marriages. He also stressed that the status of Afghan women as “free and decent people” has been restored in the country, and all institutions are obliged to help them ensure the right to marry, inheritance, and other rights.
“We have taken the necessary steps to improve the situation of women in order to provide them with a comfortable and prosperous life under the Islamic Sharia,” the Taliban leader said, noting that the problems of women in Afghanistan are also associated with “negative aspects of the 20-year occupation. “In January 2023, the Ministry of Education of the Taliban government in Afghanistan banned private universities from admitting women to admission tests. The ministry’s letter stated that universities would be held accountable in court for violating the ban.
Earlier in Afghanistan, in December 2022, was stopped access to universities for already enrolled female students. The Taliban government has also banned women from working in non–governmental organizations – there are about 180 of them in the country. Because of this ban, the UN suspended part of humanitarian programs in the country. The Taliban has also blocked girls from entering high school in most schools.
After coming to power in August 2021, the Taliban promised to respect women’s rights but soon began to impose restrictions. In September 2021, they changed the rules for universities: men and women were required to study separately and come to classes under a strict dress code, which assumes full compliance with the traditions of Islam in the understanding of the Taliban. Islamists eliminated the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which had existed for 20 years, restricted access to school education for girls, banned women from playing sports, and TV presenters were obliged to wear a hijab.
Residents of Afghanistan periodically organize rallies for the observance of their rights. The Taliban dispersed the protests with shots in the air and recently created a special Ministry of Internal Affairs women’s unit to quell such demonstrations.
It is worth stressing that the hope of the women of Afghanistan can only be associated with systemic political and economic pressure from the international community and the leading democracies of the world. In addition to the Taliban themselves, sanctions and diplomatic efforts should be directed at their mentors – Pakistan’s military and political leadership. Despite the political and economic crisis, Islamabad and the Pakistani ISI still have some leverage and generally support the movement, including some radical tendencies among the Taliban.