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This article is written by Vanya Verma from O.P. Jindal Global University. This article talks about the current situation in Afghanistan and the stances of various countries that are helping Afghanistan to deal with the current situation.

Introduction

The Taliban, a militant group that ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s, reclaimed power in Afghanistan just two weeks before the United States was supposed to withdraw its troops after a costly two-decade war.

As Afghan security personnel that were trained and equipped by the US and its allies ran away and the insurgents rushed over the nation, taking all major cities in a couple of days

The Taliban were driven out of power by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, but they never departed. The Western-backed government that had ruled the country for 20 years crumbled after a recent blitz across the country. Afghans, fearful of the future, are rushing to the airport, which is one of the country’s final exit points.

As the Taliban surged throughout the country, President Ashraf Ghani made few public pronouncements but later he fled the country. He departed Afghanistan on Sunday as the Taliban approached the city, claiming that he chose to leave to avoid further violence.

Here’s what you need to know

Reason behind the fallback of the Afghan army

The short answer is corruption. Over the last two decades, the United States and its NATO allies have spent billions of dollars training and equipping Afghan security personnel. The Western-backed regime, on the other hand, was riddled with corruption. To syphon off resources, commanders inflated the number of soldiers, and troops in the field frequently lacked ammunition, supplies, and even food.

When it became evident that the United States was leaving, their morale plummeted even more. In recent days, as the Taliban advanced fast, entire units surrendered after brief battles, and Kabul and some adjacent provinces fell to the Taliban without a fight.

Reason behind Afghans leaving the country

The people of Afghanistan are running away from their home country as they are concerned that the country would devolve into disorder, or that the Taliban will take harsh revenge against individuals who worked with the Americans or the government.

Many people are also concerned that the Taliban would reintroduce the strict interpretation of Islamic law that they used when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Women were not allowed to go to school or work outside the home at the time. When they went outside, they had to wear the all-encompassing burqa and be accompanied by a male relative. The Taliban outlawed music, amputated thieves’ hands, and stoned adulterers.

In recent years, the Taliban has attempted to portray themselves as a more moderate force, promising not to take revenge, but many Afghans are sceptical of those promises.

Reason why the Taliban took over Afghanistan at this time

Most likely because US forces are scheduled to leave at the end of the month. For several years, the United States had been attempting to exit Afghanistan, its longest war until now.

When American troops invaded to root out Al-Qaida, which coordinated the 9/11 attacks while being harboured by the Taliban, they did it in a couple of months. Holding land and rebuilding a nation devastated by wars proved more challenging. As the United States’ focus went to Iraq, the Taliban regrouped and, in recent years, took control of much of Afghanistan’s countryside.

Last year, President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw and signed an agreement with the Taliban that limited US military operations against them. President Joe Biden then announced that the last troops would leave by the end of August. As the deadline approached, the Taliban launched a rapid onslaught, capturing city after city.

Rising threats for women 

Many people are concerned that it will result in a significant reduction in civil liberties. Since the Taliban’s ouster, Afghan women have achieved significant progress. Many people are concerned that they will be confined to their homes once more. The Taliban have stated that they are no longer opposed to women going to school, but they have yet to establish a clear policy on women’s rights. Even under Taliban leadership, Afghanistan is an immensely conservative country, especially outside big towns, with women’s status varying greatly.

What will happen next in Afghanistan?

It’s unclear as to what is the future of Afghanistan and where the country is heading towards.

The Taliban have stated their desire to build an “inclusive, Islamic administration” with other groups. They are negotiating with top politicians, including former government officials. They have promised to uphold Islamic law while also promising to create a safe environment for the resumption of normal life after decades of conflict.

Many Afghans, however, are wary of the Taliban, fearing that their reign will be brutal and authoritarian. One sign that people are concerned about is their desire to rename the country the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as they did the last time they governed.

Key facts about the current situation in Afghanistan 

  • According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, at least 400,000 Afghans were displaced within their own nation due to war in 2021.
  • According to Reuters, the US has evacuated 1,200 Afghans who have been granted Special Immigrant Visas (SIV), which are for former interpreters and other helpers to US forces who are at risk of reprisal, and Washington plans to bring out 3,500 more in the coming weeks, while secretly attempting to persuade countries in Central Asia and the Balkans to accept refugees.
  • The State Department announced on August 2 that thousands more displaced Afghans will be able to apply for asylum in the United States, with the creation of a new refugee category for those who are at risk because they worked for U.S. nongovernmental organisations or media outlets but they must first cross into a third country, much of which is now under Taliban control.
  • Many of the nations that have agreed to halt deportations and accept more migrants are NATO member countries, which has formally led the international coalition of western troops in Afghanistan since 2003.
  • On August 5, NATO members Germany, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Greece, as well as Austria, wrote to the European Commission urging that deportations continue for Afghans rejected for asylum.
  • As the Taliban took control of vast swaths of Afghanistan in the days after, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany reversed course and halted deportations, with Denmark agreeing to admit 45 Afghan nationals who worked for the country’s troops, according to Al Jazeera.
  • After the Taliban took control of more than half of Afghanistan’s provinces and its second and third largest cities, immigration authorities from Austria, Greece, and Belgium justified their positions in interviews and statements on Twitter as late as Saturday.
  • According to Al Jazeera, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and France have all stopped deporting people to Afghanistan.

Response of other countries towards Afghanistan’s taken over by Taliban

Country   

Countries response

India  

  • On August 17, the Indian Air Force (IAF) sent a special jet into Kabul, Afghanistan, to rescue stranded Indians, including embassy workers and their families. People familiar with the situation, the government will not jeopardise the lives of its embassy personnel or Indian citizens in Kabul.
  • The IAF has a fleet of C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft on standby to carry out evacuation missions. One C-17 Globemaster was dispatched to war-torn Afghanistan on Sunday, August 16 and arrived in Delhi carrying Indian residents on Monday morning, while another took flight from the Hindon air force base in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad on Monday but was forced to reroute to Tajikistan due to chaos at the Kabul airport. It landed at the airport later to evacuate residents.
  • India evacuated its embassy in Kabul early on Tuesday, August 17 with an Indian Air Force flight carrying 170 Indians that included the ambassador along with staff members and paramilitary guards.
  • In light of the current scenario in Afghanistan, India has created a new category of e-visa for Afghan nationals to expedite their entry applications. These visas will only be valid for six months, and it is unclear what will happen when that time runs out.

Canada

  • Canada’s immigration minister announced Friday that the country will accept 20,000 Afghan refugees, priority will be given to human rights activists, women, LGBTQ persons, and others at risk of Taliban persecution.
  • According to Trudeau, 807 Afghans, 34 Canadian diplomats, and members of the Canadian Armed Forces had been evacuated under a special immigration programme. His government had previously refused to disclose the number of refugees it had helped, citing security concerns.
  • The 807 Afghans who were evacuated were helped as part of a programme introduced last month to help the families of Afghan interpreters and other support workers who worked with the Canadian Armed Forces and diplomatic mission in Afghanistan resettle. More than 500 people have already landed in Canada, according to Trudeau.
  • Further, he said that Canada has also evacuated two international ambassadors and five NATO personnel, with the intention of resettling up to 20,000 Afghans as quickly as possible. Last Monday, his government declared the 20,000-strong objective, but only for people who have already fled Afghanistan for other countries.

United States

  • Since Saturday, when US President Joe Biden defended the decision to withdraw troops, he has not talked publicly about the situation in Afghanistan. In the next few days, he is anticipated to deliver a speech.
  • On Monday, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan blamed the Taliban’s quick takeover of Afghanistan on the Afghan military’s ineptitude.
  • Biden did not want the US to begin a “third decade of conflict” in Afghanistan, according to Sullivan, and believed it was time for the Afghan army to protect the country two decades after the US invested billions of dollars in training and investment.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken said late Sunday on CNN that the US can only “operate with and recognise” a government that “upholds the basic rights of its people and does not harbour terrorists.”

United Kingdom

  • On August 18, the UK government declared that those who have been forced to evacuate their homes or fear Taliban persecution will be given the opportunity to permanently settle in the UK. During the first year of the resettlement scheme, the government will resettle 5,000 Afghan citizens who are at risk due to the current crisis, with women, girls, and religious minorities receiving priority. Through this scheme, the UK hopes to resettle 20,000 Afghan nationals.
  • The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan is a “failure of the international community,” according to UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who believes the West’s operation in Afghanistan is just half-completed. “We are all aware that Afghanistan is not yet completed. He told BBC television, “It’s an unfinished problem for the world, and the world needs to help it.”

Iran

  • Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has stated that the United States “military failure” in Afghanistan provides an opportunity for the country to achieve long-term peace. Iran has previously been accused by the US of providing covert aid to Taliban fighters fighting US forces. This has been refuted by Tehran, which favours an inclusive Afghan administration that includes all ethnic groups and sectors.
  • Raisi was quoted by Iran’s state television as saying, “America’s military loss and exit must become an opportunity to restore life, security, and a lasting peace in Afghanistan.” “As a neighbouring and brother nation, Iran supports efforts to restore stability in Afghanistan, and Iran welcomes all Afghan groups to establish a national agreement.”

China

  • China announced that its embassy in Kabul will remain open and that it is eager to assist in the country’s rehabilitation. When asked directly whether Beijing would recognise the Taliban as the new administration, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying stated that China will respect the Afghan people’s choice.
  • She pointed out that the Taliban agreed to negotiate the formation of an inclusive Islamic government and to protect the safety of Afghans and foreign mission personnel. China expects that this would “ensure a smooth transition of the situation in Afghanistan,” she added.

Pakistan

  • According to the Foreign Ministry, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi promised a visiting delegation of the former Afghan government on August 16 that his country will continue to play a role in maintaining peace and stability in Afghanistan.  Former Afghan parliament speaker, Mir Rahman Rahmani, lead the delegation.
  • Since 2002, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has resettled 3.2 million Afghans. According to data from April 2021, more than 1.4 million Afghan refugees have remained in Pakistan since then.
  • Afghans are now free to cross the border and enter Pakistan, but Pakistan has stated that its border with Afghanistan will be sealed.

Russia

  • On 16th August, the Russian envoy to Afghanistan stated that Moscow will decide whether or not to recognise the new Taliban government based on its actions.
  • “No one is going to rush” the decision, according to Zamir Kabulov of the Ekho Moskvy radio station. “Whether the new powers are recognised or not will be determined by their actions,” Kabulov stated.
  • Russia designated the Taliban as a terrorist organisation in 2003 but has subsequently hosted many rounds of talks with the group in Afghanistan, the most recent in March 2021

European Union

  • Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, confirmed that EU foreign ministers will convene for an emergency video conference on Tuesday.
  • According to Borrell, the meeting will be used to make a “first assessment” of the issue. He said that “Afghanistan stands at a crossroad. Security and wellbeing of its citizens, as well as international security, are at play”.

Germany

  • Following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, Germany is one of the western countries that has welcomed Afghan refugees.
  • Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, said that her country could accept 10,000 Afghan refugees. As of August 20, 1,600 persons, including German citizens, had been evacuated from Afghanistan.
  • “These are people who worked for the German military or relief organisations. The number of people who are eligible seems to be limited.”, The Chief Euro Zone Economist, Holger Schmieding, told the media.
  • The German government has urged the Taliban to exercise moderation, protect Afghan civilians, and ensure that much-needed humanitarian supplies reach them. Angela Merkel said that Germany is “concerned” about the destinies of individual Afghans as well as the country’s progress.
  • “These are bitter developments,” Steffen Seibert remarked, “when viewed against the backdrop of the Western community of states’ years-long missions.”

Qatar

  • About 640 Afghans on August 16 crammed into a US C-17 transport aircraft to fly to Qatar.
  • In a speech in Jordan on Monday, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani appealed for stability for the Afghan people.
  • “There is international worry over the escalation of events in Afghanistan, and we emphasise the necessity of not jeopardising the Afghani people’s security, and of restoring stability in Afghanistan as quickly as possible,” he said.

Turkey

  • Turkey initiated an evacuation operation in Afghanistan on Monday, delivering a Boeing 777-300 ER plane to the airport, which returned to Turkey with 324 individuals on board.

UN aid agencies

  • Despite a challenging security situation in Afghanistan following a Taliban sweep across the country, the UN humanitarian aid coordination agency said it and its partners “are remaining and delivering to people in need.”
  • “The humanitarian community– both the UN and nongovernmental organisations– remains dedicated to helping people in the country,” according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid (OCHA).
  • Thousands of internally displaced persons have received help in recent weeks, according to OCHA, including food, cash, healthcare, water, and sanitation.
  • “Humanitarian agencies are staying and providing individuals in need despite the extraordinarily challenging security environment,” OCHA added.

Afghanistan and Sharia Law 

Sharia is a religious law system based on the Koran and hadiths, which are the Prophet Mohammed’s words or acts that are susceptible to interpretation by jurists, clerics, and politicians. Countries following Sharia law differ in their views of the law as well as their levels of compliance. The application of Sharia has long been a point of contention between conservative and liberal Muslims, and it continues to be so. 

According to some readings of some Quranic texts, men are superior to women; faithful women are “obedient,” and if they stubbornly disobey, their male protectors should “strike” or “beat” them as a final resort. In matters of financial and property inheritance, the Koran stipulates that a sister receives half of her brother’s inheritance. Some researchers claim that the disparity in inheritance is mitigated by the fact that men are responsible for financially sustaining the family’s women, elderly, and children. According to another verse, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s.

For heinous sins such as sexual immorality, theft, or murder, flogging, stoning, and executions are permissible. A condemned person might be pardoned by the family of a murder victim, usually in exchange for blood money.

Between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist, implementing a severe and cruel form of Sharia law. Women’s rights were trampled, and harsh punishments were sometimes carried out in broad daylight to instil terror in the hearts of the population.

What’s next for Afghanistan’s legal system?

As they seek legitimacy from foreign powers, the Taliban appear to be projecting a softer image. They’ve shown signs of easing up on their earlier harsh interpretations of Sharia.

They have promised that those who collaborated with US or Nato soldiers will face no retaliation.

They’ve also guaranteed the protection of minorities and other nationalists.

And that is where the catch lies. What could be the Taliban’s interpretation of ‘Islamic laws’ is a matter of pure conjecture. And there are few to challenge.

Reality after the takeover by Taliban

For good reason, few are taking the Taliban’s words at face value. There have been reports of attacks on those who the insurgents dislike in general.

According to Amnesty International, Taliban fighters tortured and executed nine members of the minority Hazara group in Ghazni province after recently overrunning their village.

Taliban fighters pursuing a Deutsche Welle journalist have killed one member of his family and badly injured another, according to the German public broadcaster; three more of its journalists’ homes have been attacked.

After the Taliban took over the Afghan public television, another lady journalist was barred from returning to work.

Conclusion

Though the Taliban have promised to maintain peace in the country, the situation of the country is out of control. People are living in fear and the schools have shut down, girls and women of the country are fearing that they won’t be able to pursue education any further. Amidst all this chaos people are choosing to leave the country as they fear that the country will go back to how it was twenty years before and they can not enjoy their freedom anymore.

References


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