Two years have gone since the Taliban government overthrew the Ghani government in 2021.
As India celebrated its 76th Independence Day on Tuesday, Afghanistan marked its second-year anniversary of Kabul falling to the Taliban, who took over Afghanistan after the US withdrew in a chaotic and contentious manner after two decades of conflict.
The Taliban government declared Tuesday a National Holiday while people around the world denounced the ever-tightening restrictions on women’s rights. The UN termed it as “gender apartheid” regulations.
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There have been stricter regulations imposed on other ethnic minorities, media, activists, etc. One such is the re-establishment of the Ministry for Vice and Virtue, which violently enforces laws through imprisonment and public beatings.
However, the Taliban 2.0 is slightly different from its previous version as per some analysts.
TALIBAN 2.0 AND ITS DIFFERENCES FROM the 1990s
The changes include being more “media and politically savvy” this time around, tensions with Pakistan, its longtime partner, and the threat posed by the UN-designated terrorist group Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISI-K).
The Taliban government was previously recognized by three countries- Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. However this time, no country has officially recognized the current government body.
Though many countries, even Western powers, continue to have a presence in Afghanistan. New Delhi also has a “technical team” in Kabul yet it’s not entirely apparent how New Delhi plans to deal with Taliban 2.0.
Reports state that the initial Taliban government placed more emphasis on religious beliefs. They were agnostic about the geopolitics of Afghanistan leaving it to Pakistan. In order to use Afghanistan for strategic depth and as a training ground and launchpad for Islamic radicalism and terrorism, not just against India but also against Central Asia, Pakistan’s goals in Afghanistan were to plunge the nation into an ideological and economic international black hole.
AFGHAN WOMEN BEING ERASED FROM EVERYWHERE
Speaking during the Taliban’s inaugural press conference after taking over the office in 2021, spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid proclaimed that their sisters and men would have the same rights and would even work, shoulder to shoulder with them. Ironically the government didn’t match their policies – like the Taliban in the mid-1990s.
Rather, it has stepped up its enforcement, closing girls’ secondary schools, prohibiting women from going to college and working for NGOs like the United Nations, restricting their freedom to travel without a chaperone, and barring them from public places like parks and gyms.
Women’s rights were restricted as early as September 2021, when the Taliban shut down the Ministry of Women’s Affairs provoking enormous international anger.
Another blow to the rights of Afghan women is the recent orders to close hair and beauty salons. The industry employed more than 60,000 women who earned their livelihood – most of them being the sole breadwinner for the family. This has not only restricted the mobility of women in Afghanistan but has also shackled the already falling economy of the country.
According to a UN report, the succession of the Taliban also had a devastating impact on mental health, with widespread cases of depression and suicide, especially among adolescent females who have been stopped from pursuing an education.
Restrictions and economic difficulties have also contributed to an increase in domestic violence and forced marriages of girls.
Seemingly innocent activities like kite flying and playing music in wedding halls have been forbidden because they are thought to violate Islamic law.