Thursday, 28 October 2021 13:05

World continues to 'wait and see' 2 months after Taliban takeover

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World continues to 'wait and see' 2 months after Taliban takeover - AFP pic

THIS is the second time the Taliban formed a government in Afghanistan. They were in office for five years (1996-2001) at the end of the Mujahidin political turmoil and came to power peacefully like they did after Ashraf Ghani fled to Dubai on Aug 15.

The old Taliban government was credited for two things: establishing security and eradicating opium cultivation and trade. They were also discredited for their prejudice against women and obsession with beards and clothes.

As an insurgent group, they had fought for 20 years to oust foreign occupiers and implement syariah law. They have thrown out the Americans and formed an Islamic emirate to implement syariah law.

Questions, however, remain about their understanding of syariah, whether doctrinaire or more pragmatist.

Syariah provides space for social customs and management styles through siyasah shar'iyyah (syariah-oriented policy), which has enabled rulers to issue syariah-compliant decrees, nizam, firman, etc.

 

Later, they announced that the Taliban government will be participatory. The caretaker government, however, only consisted of themselves.

The Taliban's somewhat sudden takeover had alarmed the international community.

No country has officially recognised the Taliban government even after two months, despite all the friendly noises they made about being keen to forge friendly relations with all countries.

Pakistan, the Taliban's main sponsor, has yet to give it official recognition. The Americans left Afghanistan abruptly, perhaps to cause turmoil in Kabul, which it did, thus ending their occupation.

All this is reflective of a bad ending. In the 20 years of American occupation, the security situation and poverty in Afghanistan went from bad to worse. The streets of Kabul were no longer safe and beggars were seen everywhere.

Drug addiction, which was not an issue in the country before, skyrocketed in that time. So did official corruption. This was also the assessment of Afghan discussants at a panel organised by the Kabul Noor TV network recently.

Ghani once jokingly said at least half of the national budget was being devoured by corrupt officials in the Finance Ministry. He himself allegedly stole an incredible US$169 million when he disgracefully fled Kabul with plane-loads of US dollars.

Someone with a military rank was recently alleged by the Taliban to have helped Ghani with his quick looting and robbery of Afghan banks. A month later, when Ghani announced in Dubai that he wanted to return, the Taliban set one condition: return all the stolen money.

With the Taliban back in power, there was an exodus of affluent people to foreign countries, mainly Pakistan and Europe. The Taliban are short of funds, yet the United States government refuses to return close to US$10 billion of Afghan assets.

The Kabul financial market declined as a result and banks stayed closed in the first week of the takeover. Though some opened later, they were still inactive.

The Americans seem to have given up on Afghanistan, just as the Taliban turned east over the support shown by the non-participation of Americans at the Moscow conference and the fundraising this month by 10 countries, including Afghanistan's neighbours.

This was followed by the European Union announcing €1 billion in aid to avert a humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan.

The Taliban do have grassroots support, mainly due to their Islamic credentials and relatively cleaner record on official corruption. Yet, their prejudice against women and the Shia and poor human rights record erode their popularity.

The Panjshir opposition under popular leader Ahmad Massoud has apparently subsided, but a new resistance front made up of civil society notables, including Marshall Dostam, Ata Mohammad Nur, Hossein Qanuni, Mohammad Muhaqqiq and Ishaq Gailani, seems to be brewing.

Their main purpose is political opposition, especially against the Taliban's lack of engagement with political and civil society groups.

Afghanistan's neighbours have shown willingness to join fund-raising efforts to avert a much-feared economic collapse and to prevent more refugees from fleeing to their countries.

The international community's hitherto hostility towards the Taliban has been deemed by Taliban spokesmen to be groundless as they only wish to build good relations with others and lay the foundations for good governance.

They have also appealed to the people for support. Yet, it seems that unless the Taliban begin to act on what they say, promises alone are not likely to have any impact.

Their future, it would seem, is largely in their own hands — at least for the time being.

Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.

Published in: The New Straits Times, Thursday 28 October 2021

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2021/10/740306/world-continues-wait-and-see-2-months-after-taliban-takeover

Mohammad Hashim Kamali

Professor Dato' Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

www.HashimKamali.com