From guns to governance, the Taliban transition is difficult to digest

From guns to governance, the Taliban transition is difficult to digest
Date: Saturday, 25 September 2021 08:57

The nature and character of this unique government is rather intricate and obscure. The social, political and economic framework for a sustainable government were decided by 800 Islamic scholars. With Taliban’s growing intolerance towards dissent, many members with zero experience were handpicked to occupy the most important offices. The appointment of Mohammad Hasan Akhund as prime minister may not have surprised many political pundits, but none could decipher Mullah Baradar’s demotion to deputy prime minister. Lest we forget, this government is the same repressive theocratic regime that gave refuge to Osama bin laden, the mastermind of 9/11 attacks killing around three thousand Americans.

Ministry of interior affairs will be led by one of FBI’s most wanted man, with a $10m bounty

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Sirajuddin Haqqani being appointed as the interior minister poses a major challenge not just for the U.S but also Afghanistan’s neighbors. Afghanistan’s new interior minister, responsible for overseeing the country’s police, intelligence services and security forces is himself a terror suspect and wanted by FBI for questioning. Also, Haqqani network’s strong alliance with Al Qaeda should send alarm bells ringing. Sirajuddin commands the most notorious faction of the Taliban that takes pride in suicide bombing and incorporating staunch principals of jihad. Bankrolled by Pakistan’s intelligence services, the Haqqani network has operated with absolute impunity to spread its terror activities like kidnapping for ransom and unleashing suicide bombers in various parts of Kabul. With the Taliban mistakenly releasing prisoners who are hardcore Islamic state commanders, trainers and bomb makers, the interior minister will be in a tough spot. Mismanagement of other rival extremist groups can create an unavoidable catastrophic influx of violence in the region.

Ministers for defense and education are not unusual choices

Even though the current defense minister Muhammad Yaqoob Mujahid (son of Taliban founder, Mullah Omar) favored a negotiated end to the war, he refused to break ties with terrorist network Al Qaeda. Unlike the post of insurgency’s military chief, Mullah Yaqoob did not inherit the autonomy to make decisions. He has been appointed to obey orders and serve the interests of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency that provides safe haven to terrorists. A defense minister trained in guerilla warfare by the terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammad is now responsible for Afghanistan’s military measure, resources and crafting policy decisions on matters related to security. On the other hand, ministry of education is now in the hands of Abdul Baqi Haqqani who has been tasked to set up an education system that delivers equitable and excellent outcomes. While the Taliban has vowed to preserve the gains, Afghanistan has made in the education sector over the past 2 decades, coeducation will still remain prohibited. Abdul Baqi Haqqani has already replaced formal education with Islamic studies. In fact, he thinks higher education and obtaining PHD are irrelevant pursuits. This sets a dangerous precedent and lack of formal education will give rise to unemployment which will further destabilize the war-torn nation.

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Other ministries were also assigned to hardline Islamists

Khairullah Khairkhwa, the acting minister of information and broadcasting not only has close association with Al Qaeda but also believes in a hardline Islamist movement. In 2014, Khairkhwa was released from Guantanamo Bay prison in exchange for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a glorious war hero held captive by Taliban for five years. Free from captivity, Khairkhwa reunited with the terrorist group to wage a war against American troops. Ministry of Virtue and Vice along with a religious police force are already enforcing extreme hardline interpretation of sharia law in Afghanistan.

Bleak political future and constant infighting

Efforts to find a peaceful end to Afghanistan’s protracted war have culminated into instability and chaos. The presidential palace is abuzz with rumors of factional divide, senior Taliban leaders seemed to have indulged in a brawl. This infighting stemmed from divisions claiming credit for victory in Afghanistan. With top Taliban leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada and deputy prime minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar missing from public view, the Taliban has begun to crumble under pressure.

The group at the helm of affairs will have to battle rampant corruption plaguing the nation. Most of the entrants in Taliban’s care-taker administration have criminal history which the world will find difficult to overlook. According to UN humanitarian agency, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), a total of $606 million in aid was now needed for Afghanistan until the end of the year. With basic services nearing collapse and food aid running short, Afghanistan will find itself in a dire crisis. The Taliban may not give two hoots about the west, but Afghanistan’s $9 billion dollars held in international accounts have been blocked by the Biden administration. The world will continue to block diplomatic channels with Taliban till it promises to enforce constitutional rights in Afghanistan. By now the Taliban have understood that defeating super powers is easy but not restoring order.

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