Taliban took control over Kabul on 15th August 2021 after toppling the Afghan government and forcing the Afghan Armyto capitulate without a fight. What followed was the replacement of the Islamic Republic with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, reports of retribution killings of the declared “infidel” Afghans and visuals of women protesters being threatened with guns and desperate Afghans attempting to escape impending adversities. Being conspicuously not in consonance with earlier made promises, the Taliban resurgence has triggered agonising reminiscences of Afghanistan of the period 1996 to 2001. As of September 2021, most of the World appears to have accepted the event as a fait-accompli, but with full cognisance of likely repercussions if peace and stability is not restored in the country at the earliest.
What threatens Afghanistan? Unlike in 1996, Taliban now has well-defined organs which may be equated with a feudal organisation, but still cannot be called suitable for governing a modern nation-state. Taliban’s penchant for furthering radicalism, its irrefutable ties with terrorist groups and external factors that forever engulf Afghanistan portend difficult times for the country ahead. With the likes of Mohammed Hassan Akhund, Abdul Salam Hanafi and Sirajuddin Haqqani at significant posts in its cabinet, the interim Afghan government, which was inaugurated on 7th September overtly indicates the pre-eminence of globally acknowledged terrorist groups in Taliban 2.0. The absence of representation of women and minorities in the government also point at the impending non-inclusiveness and discriminatory attributes of the current disposition. Afghanistan, today, stands under the looming shadows of an economic disaster. Currently, over 35% of the Afghan population has been facing acute food shortage and about 42% live below the poverty line. These figures, based on the actions of Taliban’s earlier regime, are likely to bourgeon under Taliban 2.0 due to expected censoring of trade relations, diversion of foreign aids towards militarisation and continuance of corruption.
By the first week of September 2021, 3.5 million Afghans had already been internally displaced and over 2 million had sought sanctuaries in neighbouring countries. And history is testimony to the fact that such large-scale dispersal of people from a war-torn country, unarguably, leads to security related issues brewing up in the recipient countries/ neighbourhood.
Jaish-e-Mohammed and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan pledging allegiance to Taliban 2.0 immediately upon its inauguration and the presence of recognised terrorists in the new regime’s ranks indicate that bolstering the existing terror linkages of Taliban may take precedence over welfare of the people. Presently, almost 2,24,000 hectares of Afghanistan’s land is covered under poppy cultivation and in the absence of incoming humanitarian funds, the Taliban is likely to lay unequivocal focus on further growing the heroin trade to run its government and maintain its cadres. Since taking over of Afghanistan, Taliban has been referring to Kashmir as an ‘internal issue’ of India, however, recent events, the Panjshir Valley clashes to the United Nations’ General Assembly address of Pakistan’s leader on ‘why Taliban is different this time around’, illustrate an overwhelming role played by Pakistan in its resurgence. And if Pakistan has been involved so deeply in the event, the simultaneous revival of the 1989 plot of diverting militants from Afghanistan to Kashmir does not appear to be far-fetched.
Taliban’s so called victory over the United States may embolden violent sentiments to rise and creation of new radical groups and/or resurfacing of the dormant ones which would significantly threaten ‘Kashmiriyat’- the syncretic and philosophical ‘Kashmiri’ way of life. The drug menace may find its way back into the youth circles of the valley and threaten the future of budding generations who otherwise hold tremendous potential to bring laurels to J&K, India and the sub-continent.
Taliban 2.0’s enforced interpretation of the Sharia Law has already shown signs of pushing the Afghan women into a regressive spiral to pre-2001 societal standing, with the recent bans imposed on sporting teams and renewed restrictions on clothing norms. Some radicals in Kashmir may attempt to lure the ignorant (or again- ‘profit-driven’) misogynists to prevent the ‘daughters of Kashmir’ from rightfully partaking in an equal and non-prejudicial Indian society. Way Forward for Peace and Stability in Afghanistan and the region. Hereafter, it is important that Taliban is made to fulfil its promises made during the Doha Talks, Afghanistan is economically integrated with its neighbours and its soil is not used for planning or execution of terror related activities. The following are some suggestions for the same:
Kashmir, since the early 2000s and specifically since August 2019, has come a long way to thwart the menacing outcomes of Pak sponsored proxy war against her populace. The trend should not be lost sight of and Kashmiris should continue progressing at the same rate as the rest of India by ensuring integration of the masses into the mainstream, annihilation of misguided underpinnings driven from incorrect (again- ‘profit driven’) interpretation of Islam, facilitating the youth to embrace myriad of employment opportunities available in the country today and undertaking united and non-prejudicial endeavours towards peace, security and stability. And regarding the undermentioned adage as the lantern for illuminating the way forward.
‘Kashmiriyat’, ‘Jamhuriyat’ (Democracy) aur (and) ‘Insaniyat’ (Humanity)