World Affairs 101: The Great Tragic Loss of Beautiful Kabul to Taliban

Taliban Afghanistan Kabul Islamic Lashes

This happened as recent as April 2020 where the Taliban decided and lashed out 40 lashes at a helpless woman whose crime is only talking to a young man on the phone. And suddenly some like Hadi Awang decided that the Taliban have changed for the better. Image source: The Observers.

Read these first:-

Kabul Taliban Airport

Landing in Kabul for the very first time in 2007. If you note the angle of the aeroplane’s wings, it was actually making turns before landing. We found out later that the Taliban were shooting at the airport and the plane had to make drastic manoeuvres to avoid being attacked. 

Dismissing PAS’ dangerous support of Taliban

The problem with religion-riding local politicians like Hadi Awang who went public records to say that the Taliban have changed and deserves the world’s sympathy is that they did not live in Afghanistan, never experienced the Taliban brutality first hand and makes statements & decisions based on religion alone. They are the same people who rather have corrupt Muslims governing than good, non-corrupt non-Muslims.

Frankly speaking, it was rather irresponsible for this political party to jump in support of the Taliban just when thousands of Afghans especially women and children are fleeing the country to avoid living under the Taliban’s rule. A number of them have died. What do PAS and its President, Hadi Awang trying to imply? Is this the official stand considering that PAS and Hadi Awang is part and parcel of the Government?

This is an interesting and valid response to PAS and Hadi Awang by one Dr Abdul Razak Ahmad (Founding Director of Bait Al-Amanah) and Amirun Hamman Azram (Policy and Advocacy Associate at Bait Al-Amanah).

Kabul Afghanistan Taliban

The buildings on the way from the airport to our hotel were full of bullet holes, some have huge holes evident of rocket attacks. But then again, there were a lot of constructions especially in the UN’s Green Zone where it is deemed safe and cleared from the Taliban.

For records, Bait Al-Amanah is an independent research institute that promotes policy and decision-making through sound, independent and multidisciplinary analysis in areas of governance and democracy, economics, security, and issues of national importance.:-

According to Ambassador Awang, the Taliban has changed for the better and we must not believe the negative portrayal of the Taliban by the Western media. Ambassador Awang’s statement has already received extensive coverage in the international press.

This matter is of grave concern as the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet clearly stated Malaysia’s position on the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan. The Ambassador’s statement impacts how the international community views Malaysia, an exemplary Islamic democratic nation, and our people. It may also encourage the potential resurgence of the Jemaah Islamiyah, ISIS, and Al-Qaeda affiliated organisations in Southeast Asia.

The reality is that the situation in Afghanistan is delicate and fragile. The Taliban takeover happened in a matter of weeks and a major humanitarian crisis is looming. Mass exodus, internal displacement, and human rights violations are not Western propaganda but are very much part of the reality in Afghanistan.

Therefore, any statement or argument in support of the Taliban must be made in the context of the political-security situation in Afghanistan and not based on rhetoric. The Taliban has promised to respect women’s rights and to have an inclusive government. Yet Afghan women are not even allowed to leave their homes at the moment for security reasons. The Taliban has admitted that most of their people are not used to dealing with women; indeed, some have never even talked to women. The Taliban must follow through with their promises as every action of theirs will be scrutinised by the international community.

The language used by the Taliban is not of reform and moderating their extreme views but rather an acknowledgement of the mistakes they had made. The Taliban recognises they need the support of the international community if they were to govern Afghanistan successfully and develop diplomatic relations with other countries. The Taliban, however, has an extremely poor track record. As such, they need to prove their commitment to fulfil the promises they have made.

The examples and events stated in Ambassador Awang’s statement about the teachings of Hanafi and other Islamic scholars have no relation to the present context of the Taliban. These examples cannot be used to reflect the Taliban’s behaviour and policies when there have been years of credible reporting from international news outlets, human rights organisations, and non-governmental organisations about the Taliban’s criminal actions of human trafficking, sectarian violence, degrading treatment of women and children, widespread torture, and ethnic cleansing.

It is also unacceptable to dismiss the Taliban’s involvement in opioid trading without credible sources. Numerous international news outlets such as the South China Morning Post, the Japan Times, Reuters, and Al Jazeera have published articles on the Taliban opium trade.

According to U.N. officials, the Taliban is involved in all stages of the opium trade, from poppy planting and opium extraction to collecting “taxes” from cultivators and charging smugglers’ fees. The U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Kabul has reported that, between 2018 and 2019, the Taliban earned over US$400 million from the opium trade and uses these funds to finance their activities. The Taliban has yet to issue any statement refuting these reports.

The Taliban has also made no efforts to convince the international community that they are taking steps to deradicalize themselves or dissociate themselves from such known terrorist organisations as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, or the Haqqani network.

Hence, the international community has every right to be suspicious of any claims made by the Taliban that they are moving away from terrorism.

(Source: Malaysian Insight)

Taliban Women Kabul Afghanistan

When the Taliban left, one of the NGOs that got rather active were the NGOs related to women social & business development and education. After years of being brutalised and denied many opportunities, the Afghan women were very active to catch up on lost time and became a force to reckon with.  

More News on Taliban Brutality

Mind you that these are reports that are coming in 2021 and not from the 1990s:-

Taliban fighters massacred nine ethnic Hazara men after taking control of Afghanistan’s Ghazni province last month, Amnesty International said today.

On-the-ground researchers spoke to eyewitnesses who gave harrowing accounts of the killings, which took place between 4-6 July in the village of Mundarakht, Malistan district. Six of the men were shot and three were tortured to death, including one man who was strangled with his own scarf and had his arm muscles sliced off.

The brutal killings likely represent a tiny fraction of the total death toll inflicted by the Taliban to date, as the group have cut mobile phone service in many of the areas they have recently captured, controlling which photographs and videos are then shared from these regions.

(Source: Amnesty International)

And this:-

In spite of their vow to not retaliate against opponents, the Taliban have executed a regional police chief, who fought against the jihadist group.

Video footage currently going viral on the Internet apparently shows a handcuffed and blindfolded General Haji Mullah Achakzai, the police chief of Badghis Province near Herat, being shot to death.

(Source: Times Now News)

And this:-

Despite the Taliban’s efforts, in front of the cameras, to soften their image with a kinder, gentler message of tolerance, women’s rights and peaceful cohabitation, Dr. Weeda Mehran, Lecturer at University of Exeter, portrays a dire and ‘frightening situation’ in Afghanistan.

The brutality of the Taliban ‘is fresh in the minds of people,’ especially the brutality displayed ‘towards religious minorities.’ Speaking to France 24, Dr. Mehran describes the current situation on the ground that completely defies the Taliban’s promise of broad amnesty:

“We’re getting reports of the Taliban doing door-to-door searches for (former) Afghan officials, NDS workers and security forces.” Those who are officially summoned by the Taliban are threatened with retribution against family members if they do not report to them.

Dr. Mehran warns of a bleak future, illustrating the grim new reality Afghanistan is now facing: “Once the cellphones are off and once the cameras turn around, they beat people up, they insult people on the streets, they hit women if they do not dress a certain way.

They go on with the business as usual when they know that they are not being watched by the international community and there’s nobody to record them.’

(Source: France 24)

Taliban Afghan Kabul Cute Boy

This is the nephew of one of my working Afghan colleagues in Kabul. Afghans are one of the friendliest, beautiful people around and benefitting from the route of the Silk Road, connecting the East and the West. We spent a lot of time in this garden when it gets too stressed out at our offices.

Stories from My Afghan Colleagues

We were in Kabul in 2007 rather unplanned.

We were in Sharjah for a project for an Afghanistan bank and the idea was to train their IT and banking staff in Sharjah and install the server in their head office in Dubai. The Afghan staff will then bring over the server and the knowledge back to Afghanistan. We were not supposed to travel anywhere else other than Dubai and then back home to Malaysia.

However, plans change at the very last minute and we had no choice but to fly to Kabul for a week. The supposed to be a week in Kabul ended up weeks in Kabul and 2 more trips alone to Kabul months later. Of course, we were strongly assured of our safety throughout our time in Kabul. There is always an armed guard following us when we travel from our hotel to the workplace. The hotel is basically has a small platoon of heavily armed Afghan soldiers whilst the workplace has probably 2-3 platoons.

Taliban Kabul Afghanistan AK-47 Armed Guards

Despite the defeat of the Taliban, it does not mean Kabul is safer to walk around. One always needs to keep one’s eyes and ears open to any emergency. Having an armed guard with a loaded AK-47 in a bulletproof four-wheel vehicle does not mean the Taliban or the many criminal mafias will not attempt to kill or kidnap you.

I met some of the friendliest people in Kabul and despite the hardship; they remained humbled and excited about a bright future without the Taliban. So obviously our conversation sometimes turns to their life under the Taliban.

Life under the Taliban means women could not work and they have no access to higher education. They had to wear a burka whenever they had to travel outside their home. After the Taliban had left, women had more freedom to a point; almost half of the bank’s workforce is young women. The bank provides transportation, training (both banking and language) and food to all their young staff.

Men had to grown beards and almost every home had a gun to protect their family. There were almost no business and education opportunities with the Taliban controlling the country. Most of them had never travel outside the country. So imagine their excitement when they had the opportunity to travel to Sharjah for training and the biggest excitement and a major eye-opener when they came to Malaysia for extended technical training. The overall greenery all around the city simply overwhelmed them and they loved it.

Kabul Afghanistan Mountain Taliban

The landscape of the country from the air seems harsh, unforgiven and yet, beautiful. Imagine a 5-star hotel right on top of these mountains. If the country was truly safe for anyone to travel to, their tourism sector will boom, bringing the valuable foreign exchange that the country truly needs.  

Final Say

Taliban did not come into power to rule the country by democratic ways and the Afghan people had already tasted their brand of cruel, barbaric rule in the 1990s. The democratic Afghan Government may have its shortcomings and corruption may be prevalent but at least it is voted by the people and the government had not enforced a strict way of living. Speaking of corruption, tell me which country including Malaysia does not have corruption issues?

Business picked up with foreign investors investing in the country infrastructure especially in the area of telecommunication and internet. University opened its door to both men and women students which helped with increasing available manpower for higher and technical industries. They even had an award-winning all-female robotic team who had managed to leave the country recently.

Taliban Afghan Displaced Chart Kabul

The spike of Afghans leaving the country came in August when the Taliban start regaining the country due to the US & NATO forces leaving the country. There are thousands more waiting for their flight out from the country but they may be left stranded as the August deadline looms. Chart source: BBC

As many as 8,000 to 15,000 Afghans have been airlifted in recent days and it is expected that 300,000 Afghans who had worked with US forces is looking way out of the country as well. In the meantime, government servants, journalists and social media influencers have managed to leave the country with great difficulties.

The point is if Afghans themselves are NOT convinced that the Taliban have changed for the better, who is PAS President who is 5,000 kilometres away to say that the Taliban have changed and there is nothing to be afraid of.

Taliban taking over is actually tragic for the Afghans and the country as a whole.

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