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OPINION: Finally, Taliban are on the Receiving End

By: Amjad Ayub Mirza

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Last Updated: September 17, 2021, 18:23 IST

People hold a protest march against Taliban's decision to force them to leave their homes in Kandahar on September 14. (Image: Reuters)

People hold a protest march against Taliban's decision to force them to leave their homes in Kandahar on September 14. (Image: Reuters)

Taliban are struggling to subdue internal fighting, gain control over a disgruntled civil society, and bring anti-Taliban resistance forces in Panjshir to task.

As missiles came raining down on Kabul during early afternoon of September 16, it sent a disturbing message across the world that not all jihadists are on the same page when it comes to establishing an Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan. At least five missiles are said to have landed near the Kabul power plant, which shows that the objective of the strike was to throw the capital city into darkness by disrupting the electricity supply.

Now the Taliban have ordered Afghans living in an abandoned military compound to leave their houses and make way for Taliban fighters to move in. Nearly 2,500 families are feared to get evicted in the coming days. However, after protests, the Taliban are said to have abandoned the plans temporarily.

The video of deputy prime minster Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar that surfaced on the same day the missile attack took place has for the moment laid to rest rumours that he had been fatally wounded after a gun fight broke out between the Doha group, which had facilitated the talks between the American and the Taliban, and the Haqqani network, whom Pakistan had helped to get a large share in the Taliban ad-hoc government. Seventeen of the 33 ministerial portfolios have gone to the Haqqanis.

The missile attack on Kabul took place when the Taliban were holding their first cabinet meeting. The meeting fell apart following heated arguments between several ministers regarding the economic and political catastrophe that the Taliban find themselves facing.

On the one hand, the IMF and the World Bank have brought all aid to Afghanistan to a halt. To add insult to injury, the United States government has frozen Afghan assets, which amount to almost $9 billion, raising qualms regarding the Taliban’s ability to manage the economy in the not-so-distant future.

On the other hand, doubts have appeared about the capability of the Taliban to consolidate its rule over Afghanistan. The fighters in the north in Panjshir, led by Ahmad Masood and former First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, refuse to budge and continue to put up a fierce resistance despite the alleged military assistance provided to the Taliban by neighbouring Pakistan.

Islamic State-Khorasan has also posed a serious threat to the claims of stability made by the ad-hoc government of Taliban in Kabul. The ISIK had carried out at least two deadly attacks last month on the Kabul airport which resulted in the death of 13 US marines and more than 200 Afghans.

Pakistan has allegedly been accused by the Doha group of meddling in the internal affairs of Afghanistan to the detriment of the political wing of the terrorist organisation based in Doha.

The sudden dash to Kabul by chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Faiz Hameed is said to have played an instrumental role in forming the ad-hoc Taliban government. This is believed to have divided the Taliban into at least three groups. The Taliban, the Haqqani and those who support Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Mullah Baradar’s sudden disappearance and then reappearing six days later and releasing a prerecorded video statement claiming he is fine and reading from a piece of paper shows him visibly distressed. This has raised questions regarding Baradar being forced to make an appearance on video.

In recent days, the fighters in Panjshir have also shown resilience and have reportedly been attacking the Taliban in the province of Badakhshan. Moreover, it is reported that Ahmad Masood has announced that soon they will declare a parallel Afghan government. All these pointers indicate that the Taliban rule over Kabul is going to be anything but stable.

Another important factor is the resilience of the Afghan women, who have taken to streets to oppose the Taliban. From Kabul to Kandahar and Herat, scores of Afghan women have been taking out processions while chanting slogans, such as down with the Taliban and death to Pakistan.

As the Taliban struggle to subdue internal fighting, gain control over a disgruntled civil society and bring anti-Taliban resistance forces in Panjshir to task, one thing is clear that the Taliban are finally on the receiving end of the wrath of the wider Afghan society. From being an aggressor and bombarding civilian government of former president Ashraf Ghani in Kabul to having a rocket fired upon, the Taliban are now facing multiple enemies and from various sections of society, something the Taliban should get used to very quickly.

Dr Amjad Ayub Mirza is an author and a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoJK. He currently lives in exile in the UK. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.

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first published:September 17, 2021, 18:23 IST
last updated:September 17, 2021, 18:23 IST