Displaying items by tag: taliban
EVENTS are still unfolding but expectations are already dampened by the Taliban's performance in government after four months in power. Up to late December last year, only Malaysia has officially recognised it.
This is perhaps not highly significant given the fact that Malaysia has no diplomatic mission in Kabul and deals with Afghanistan through its embassy in Qatar.
Pakistan is generally seen to have actively supported the Taliban takeover of power in August last year but it has yet to officially recognise it.
The United States has not recognised the Taliban and according to its Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, it is not likely to do so unless the Taliban changes its stance on inclusivity and human rights, especially of women's rights to work and education.
Due to legitimacy issues, Washington is refusing to release US$10 billion of Afghanistan's reserves in the US despite public outcry in Afghanistan that those funds are sorely needed.
Other countries tend to follow the US and have refused recognition for similar reasons, saying that the Taliban should act on its promises first.
The Taliban considers the prevailing non-recognition as less than acceptable and unfair.
The Taliban maintains — and confirmed in a Jan 4 interview with First Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar — that it fulfils all the requirements of recognition, take credit that security prevails under it, and that its policies are people-friendly and responsive to actual developments.
Earlier comments by some of the Taliban spokesmen claimed that the Taliban is not the same group as the one of 20 years ago (when it was in power from 1996 to 2001) and has changed in many ways.
Yet, it has not budged on its negative stance on women's rights despite the frequent comments by international commentators that the Taliban should change this.
Public expectations that the Taliban will be a people's government are also dampened due to a series of restrictions it is imposing on public activities. Media representatives are complaining of many restrictions.
An earlier announcement by the Taliban Ministry for the Promotion of Good and Prevention of Evil said the media should expose people to that which is good and beneficial and avoid coverage of futile activities.
There is talk that the Taliban is clamping down on music. People are expected to wear beards and the traditional shalwar-kameez outfit. Internally displaced and unemployed people are growing in numbers and further swelling the existing problems of poverty and deprivation.
The fears of drastic food shortages and increasing economic problems add to the gloomy outlook. About 90 per cent of Afghans currently live below the poverty line.
Banks were closed for weeks before it reopened but are still far from returning to their normal pace of activities. Government employees and workers are complaining of not receiving their salaries for months amid widespread unemployment.
There are fears of an impending humanitarian disaster due to worsening food shortages and rising prices. Recent announcements that the import trade volumes are declining is indication of an economic slowdown.
This is despite an earlier announcement by Pakistan that it is allowing India's export of food and medicine to Afghanistan though its territory.
Time is not on the Taliban's side. Problems are piling up and the people's view of it is also turning negative.
It bought time earlier by saying publicly that it needed to consult internally among themselves and formulate new policies, that it was new in office and had inherited a corrupt regime and so forth.
Instead, the Taliban has gradually come up with more restrictions and issued few reassuring statements to respond to public concerns.
What policies the leadership was consulting about and formulating should perhaps be discussed in the open and deliberated for better results.
People expect more effective measures to curb food supply shortages, declining market situations and financial activities.
The value of the Afghan currency, Afghani, versus the US dollar is in a free fall. It was 80 Afghani some months ago but it is now 104. Trading volumes in the Kabul Market and other major cities have also declined.
All this give fodder to the rumour that the Taliban is likely to collapse due to lack of funds, ineffective governance and lack of international support.
Mohammad Hashim Kamali is founding chief executive officer of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Sunday 09 January 2022
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
A prominent Malaysia-based Afghan Muslim scholar has advised Putrajaya to practise cautious optimism amid mixed signals from the recent return of the Taliban in Kabul, some 20 years after the ulta-purist religious movement was ousted in the aftermath of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.
“Malaysia will be interested in trade relations but political developments will take time. However, an early show of interest in recognition will make a big favourable impact on the Taliban,” Hashim Kamali, who heads the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies in Kuala Lumpur, told MalaysiaNow.
He was asked for a response on the return of what many have called the Taliban 2.0, as speeches from the group’s top leaders suggest that they are shedding some of the controversial interpretations of Islam that characterised their rule in the late 1990s.
At the peak of their power, the Taliban imposed tough restrictions on women including a ban on their formal education.
In 2001, months before they were ousted by US forces who accused them of protecting Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban regime earned international condemnation for destroying the historic Buddhas of Bamiyan, the sixth-century statues in central Afghanistan, on the assertion that retaining the monuments was a form of idol worship and un-Islamic.
The Taliban were the product of the post-Soviet invasion in Afghanistan, made up of students (talib) educated in traditional religious schools and whose pioneers were involved in the 10-year armed struggle against Soviet forces.
Despite statements indicating that the current group of Taliban leaders could be “gentler” and more moderate, there is little expectation that they have changed in their interpretation of the shariah.
Kamali, who was part of the Constitution Review Commission of Afghanistan in 2003 and a consultant appointed by the United Nations on constitutional reforms in the country, said while the world could expect differences in terms of approach and administration, the group’s basic ideology, especially on Islam and shariah, remained the same.
He said statements from top leaders only indicated that the group was out to seek international legitimacy of its rule.
“There are signs that the Taliban will put in place a civilian administration and not the mullas, so to speak,” he added, pointing to an assurance that all government functionaries would be retained as well as the Taliban’s offer of a general amnesty.
Kamali said while some semblance of normalcy and stability would be welcomed by Afghans, many were apprehensive at the memory of the Taliban’s past atrocities, especially their “killing sprees in recent months and years”, he added.
Herizal Hazri, who heads think tank Institute of Strategic and International Studies, agreed, saying the Taliban would need international recognition to remain in power.
“They must also realise that they need to join the world’s economy if they want to develop the country and maintain the image that they can uplift the living standard of Afghans.”
Kamali meanwhile does not think that the rise of the Taliban will have any effect on Malaysia’s Islamic movements, despite some voices seen as sympathetic towards the group.
“The Taliban do not seem to have had close ties with the Islamists groups of Malaysia. Malaysia is fairly secure with a strong government that is alert to such developments,” said Kamali, an expert on Islamic jurisprudence who has written close to 50 books.
For Herizal, the Covid-19 pandemic would minimise problems posed by extremist groups, although he said the possibility of radical ideologies gaining a foothold in the country should not be ruled out.
He said Malaysia should not rush into recognising the Taliban administration until all negotiations involving the group are over.
Published in: Malaysia Now, Monday 23 August 2021
ON Dec 16, the Taliban attacked an army school in Peshawar and killed 132 children and nine adults. Eight terrorists dressed in military uniform penetrated the school’s well-guarded perimeter and opened fire on the students and school personnel. Pakistani army commandos fought the intruders for several hours before killing the last attacker. The assault on the military school was the single deadliest attack in the Taliban’s history.................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)