Taliban investigation

The girls arrive at their school in Kabul on March 23. The Taliban ordered the closure of secondary schools for girls in Afghanistan just hours after they reopened.


ahmad sahel arman/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

“The animosities have ended and we would like to live in peace, without internal or external enemies,” a Taliban spokesman said in August. “We will witness the formation of a strong, Islamic and inclusive government.” How’s it going?

It was obvious that the Taliban had not changed and talk of moderation was an attempt to deter sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Now, as the world watches Ukraine, the band is coming back into shape.

Women and girls are familiar targets. This month the government broke its promise to reopen schools for girls beyond sixth grade. Women cannot board planes unless traveling with a male relative. Public parks will be segregated by gender. Some male government workers said they were told to grow long beards or risk losing their jobs.

The use of mobile phones is prohibited in universities and foreign series will no longer be broadcast on television. International media like the BBC, which offers services in Pashto and Persian, are no longer broadcasting. There are still scattered protests, but the government has cracked down on dissent.

“The decrees stem from the demands of Taliban Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada, who is apparently trying to take the country back to the late 1990s, when the Taliban banned women from education and public spaces, and banned music, television and many sports,” reports the Associated Press, citing “a senior Taliban official and Afghans familiar with the leadership of the Taliban.

Last month, the Taliban announced a ban on Afghans leaving the country. Although a government spokesperson later reversed this decision, the risk of an exit ban is real. It could be a death sentence for some of the thousands of America’s Afghan allies and their family members still trapped in the country.

Afghanistan became a sanctuary for al-Qaeda the last time it was ruled by the Taliban, which did not cut ties with the terror group. General Kenneth McKenzie of Central Command said recently that the United States was monitoring terrorist activity in the country but had not carried out an over-the-horizon attack since the departure of American troops.

The chaotic and deadly US withdrawal has eroded US security and credibility, but spare a thought for Afghans now ruled by barbarians. They are the ones who will suffer the most.

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Appeared in the March 31, 2022 print edition.


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