It’s 2022, But Afghanistan Has Gone Back Decades Under Taliban
While the world welcomes 2022, Afghanistan sees beheading of mannequins and curbs on music and women's education.
The year started well in Afghanistan. Kabul and its environs are covered in a thick blanket of snow, to the delight of those who have neither food to eat nor fire to keep warm. Children do not take a vacation from school for the simple reason that girls, in particular, do not go to school anymore. The new, friendly and cuddly Taliban 2.0, however, do their best to care for the population. For example, by shooting at women who, challenging the prohibitions on both gathering and going out without the now-infamous Dementor suit, protest in the streets of Kabul asking, in addition to their rights to work and study, food and something to keep warm.
And to their requests, in perfect Marie-Antoinette style, Taliban respond with the 2.0 version of the infamous brioche: a nice haircut for the guys still wandering around without a beard and with Western-style hair, and the beheading of mannequins with female features in shop windows.
The mannequins are guilty not only of belonging to the desecrated and very dangerous (for the spiritual and psychiatric health of Taliban males) female gender but for wearing in plain sight charming coloured and embroidered outfits.
The Pak-Operated Drone Strike
There are now few musical instruments left, but those few are destroyed and set on fire with great enthusiasm: after all, the population is asking to warm up, and what the heck! In the end, paintings, antique furniture and pianos serve just that. The war is over, they say, but peace, the peace of the Taliban and the Sharia law, seems to be much worse for the population than war, which, in reality, has disappeared from only press reports.
News leaks are only on social media and then bounce, often unverified, on some local or national newspaper – for example, the news of Pakistani-operated drone strikes. The most sensational attack was destined to strike, immediately beyond the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, one of the most important leaders of Tehrik-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The attack, which failed miserably, was supposed to be a retaliation for the failed negotiations between the Pakistani government and the terrorist group, which refused to extend the ceasefire. Speculation of all kinds was popping up like popcorns. Some talked of new rules of engagement between the US and Pakistan, which would allow joint intelligence operations and even drone attacks, and, therefore, believe that the operation would not have been possible without the green light of Americans. Others argued that it was a Chinese drone, as Pakistanis would not be able to fly a drone, and the operation failed because of the extremely good quality of Chinese goods.
But there is very little to laugh about, given that the Pakistani use of drones on Afghan territory has occurred and certainly takes place with the consent of Kabul and confirms (if there were still any need) the influence of Islamabad on the Taliban, as also the allegations of all those who now speak openly of the Pakistani occupation of Afghanistan.
A 'Second Chance' For Terrorists
On the other hand, Islamabad has been acting for months as a semi-official spokesman for Kabul, continuing to ask, against all evidence and now against any kind of common sense, to give another chance to the pack of hired killers installed in Afghanistan by the Pakistani army itself. Schools are closed to girls, journalists and opponents killed, music and films are banned, the Women's Ministry has been closed for good, and mannequins are beheaded in the street. Women can not walk alone on the street if not close to home and can't go to work anymore. But let's give our favourite terrorists a “second chance”.
On 25 December, the government of Kabul officially abolished the Electoral Commission of Afghanistan, stating: “We do not see the usefulness of it. If there is a need in the future, we will create an ad hoc Islamic commission ”. However, for Pakistan, democracy is an overrated concept. In fact, in recent days, one of the leading exponents of the Pakistani intelligentsia was calling for fifteen years of Imran Khan dictatorship to settle things in the country. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Pakistani Prime Minister, not too much remotely operated by the Army, called for an extraordinary session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to which representatives of the US, China, Russia, France and Great Britain were also invited to discuss the humanitarian emergency in Afghanistan.
'Human Rights Don't Have the Same Meaning Everywhere'
According to the well-established Pakistani narrative, the rest of the world, in order to avoid "the worst humanitarian catastrophe ever created by man", should recognise the Kabul government (made up of terrorists and suicide bombers) and release frozen government funds abroad that amount to about 75% of Afghanistan’s government budget. It also reiterates the usual not-so-veiled threats to the rest of the world: the chaos that will be generated in Afghanistan means "inability to fight terrorism", the West and that its neighbouring countries will be inundated with refugees.
Did the Taliban not keep any of the clauses of the Doha agreement? Let's wait, says the brave Imran, and let us remember that “human rights do not have the same meaning everywhere”.
Let us, hence, allow the Taliban to sit, as a consequence of their recognition, at the United Nations and in the Commissions for human rights or women's rights. After all, if China – or Pakistan itself – can sit in the aforementioned Commissions, why not the Taliban? There are many in Kabul who fear that the beheadings of mannequins are only general rehearsals and that the time is not far off when the public stoning of adulterers, the bloody executions of homosexuals, the street mutilations of thieves will resume. The Stone Age 2.0 is still yet to come.
(Francesca Marino is a journalist and a South Asia expert who has written ‘Apocalypse Pakistan’ with B Natale. Her latest book is ‘Balochistan — Bruised, Battered and Bloodied’. She tweets @francescam63. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author's own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for his reported views.)
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