A Year of Taliban’s Rise Like The Phoenix


After the political and military transition in 2014, when most US and NATO forces left Afghanistan, the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG) was formed, and the Taliban increased their tactics in the rural areas where they had influence. A key aspect of this change was its interference with local dispute resolution mechanisms, including the Settlement of Land Disputes. Since coming to power, the Taliban has maintained an uncompromising approach to justice and conflict resolution. But there is no evidence that the regime has a criminal code or a functioning judicial system, nor that it has provided the necessary guidance to Afghanistan’s few remaining judges. The Taliban have re-established their Ministry of Vice and Virtue to oversee such matters as a range from strict restrictions on the role of women in society to bans on music and dress for men and women. Female journalists are banned from working in state media, and those in private media can only appear with their faces covered. Journalists in some provinces must seek permission from local officials before reporting, and media companies banned the broadcasting of music or popular soap operas and entertainment programs and sources of advertising revenue was cut off, many outlets were closed. Press rights have been heavily penalised by the Taliban regime. Gender-based segregation started off with the initialising of a dress code based on strict Islamic lines, women are not allowed to roam free without a partner or a “Mehram”. The Taliban also ordered traders to remove the heads of all mannequins, labelling them as Un-Islamic. The Taliban’s provincial branch of the Ministry of Prosecution of Virtue and Prevention of Virtue also banned women from using spas in Balkh and Herat provinces. For many women in these states, these hammams were the only access to bathing. The current de facto government announced in September 2021 is said to be the interim government. However, there is no timetable or clear information about a possible transition to more permanent facilities. Importantly, as rifts and apparent divisions within the Taliban deepen, a transition to a more inclusive government is highly unlikely.

Politico-Social Changes after the Taliban usurpation

Since returning to power last year, the Taliban have restricted women’s access to education, employment and other economic resources and severely restricted women’s movement in general. These restrictions have been put in place through official decrees, orders and letters at both the national and local levels. The situation had deteriorated before the Taliban came to power. Still, in the 2022 Global Gender Gap report from the World Economic Forum, Afghanistan ranked 146th in educational attainment, economic empowerment and opportunity for women. The Taliban’s enforcement methods include direct warnings, intimidation, detention, and, if necessary, removal from government positions. This is due to the culture of fear and intimidation associated with the Taliban. Shortly after taking over the country, the Taliban ordered female civil servants to stay home. Universities have remained closed for months, and most local girls still can’t attend school past the sixth grade.

The restructuring of the Taliban government included the abolition of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and its replacement with the Ministry of Propagation and Prevention of Virtue, a notoriously repressive ministry under Taliban rule. The ministry soon introduced further restrictions on travel and access to services such as health care by requiring women to be accompanied by a male relative when they leave their homes. Driver’s licenses are no longer issued to women. These developments show both the Taliban’s ignorance of women’s issues and their inability to govern a modern state effectively. The Taliban’s decisions and orders make it clear that the Taliban consider women to be second-class citizens and are willing to eradicate their presence in public. Policies have a profound impact on women’s social status and lifelong psychological well-being. Treating women as second-class citizens affects how society as a whole, especially young men and boys, sees and treats women at home and in public.

Combined with Afghanistan’s already patriarchal society, this will seek ever greater control over women’s mobility, education and career choices, as well as their dress, access to daily services and ability to exercise their basic rights. It proves your efforts. It hurts a woman’s self-esteem, confidence and agency. Deputy Ministry of Virtue enforcers often go to communities, rally people to markets, and use radio and television platforms and loudspeakers in mosques to ensure women adhere to Taliban codes of conduct. Encourage ordinary people to become eyes and ears. Women were severely under-represented in the final round of the failed peace talks, with just four women in the government delegation and none in the Taliban delegation. Lawyers, judges and prosecutors were effectively dismissed and forced into hiding. They faced reprisals from men convicted and imprisoned for domestic violence and other gender-based violence, then released from prison by the Taliban. There were reports that they were searching for Human rights defenders who faced intimidation, harassment, intimidation, violence, and targeted killings. The surge in attacks that began in late 2020 continues into 2021. At least 17 human rights defenders have been killed and hundreds more threatened between September 2020 and May 2021, according to the Afghan Human Rights Commission.

Since late August, the Taliban have occupied all 14 of his offices in Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, forcing officials to flee the country or go into hiding. Taliban fighters searching for human rights defenders and journalists reportedly raided their homes, and NGO workers and their families were beaten. On October 29, a Taliban Finance Ministry spokesman said he did not recognize LGBTI rights under Sharia law. The Afghan Penal Code continues to criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations. The already fragile health sector was further hit by the August suspension of international aid to the System Strengthening for Health Action transition project in Afghanistan. By November, he had 3,000 clinics closed due to a lack of funds. Multi-donor projects have become a major source of support for the provision of quality health care, nutrition and family planning services across Afghanistan. In September, WHO warned of a rapidly deteriorating public health situation, including rising rates of measles, diarrhoea and polio among children. Due to a lack of emergency preparedness and poor public health infrastructure, Afghanistan was already ill-equipped to deal with the spike in Covid-19 cases in the middle of the year. Internally displaced persons, who live in overcrowded conditions and lack adequate access to water, sanitation and medical facilities, were particularly vulnerable. At least 7,293 people have died from Covid-19 as of November 15. About 7% of the population was vaccinated. Health workers and facilities have been under attack throughout the year. In the first six months of the year, nine of his polio vaccines were shot dead in Nangarhar province. In October, the Taliban pledged to help restart a nationwide polio immunization campaign, allowing women to join the front lines. They also pledged to provide safety and protection to all frontline medical workers.

Politico-Economic Changes through the Taliban regime

The economy collapsed, largely because the government cut foreign aid and restricted international economic transactions. More than 90% of Afghans have been food insecure for almost a year, leaving millions of children acutely malnourished and threatening serious long-term health problems. The main reason why Afghans have lost access to food, water, shelter and health care is almost entirely economic. Millions of dollars in lost revenue, rising prices and the collapse of the country’s banking sector. While other factors, such as severe drought and the aftermath of decades of war, have contributed to the humanitarian crisis in the country, economic shocks are the main cause of the worsening situation.

Since August, more than four of her five households in Afghanistan have experienced a significant reduction or loss of income. At the same time, the decision by the United States and other governments to disconnect Afghanistan’s central bank, formally Da Afghanistan Bank, from the international banking system has almost completely paralyzed the country’s overall economy and banking system. This has resulted in a massive liquidity crisis and a nationwide shortage of US dollars and Afghan banknotes, the currency of Afghanistan.

The devastating economic losses from the Taliban takeover probably hit ordinary Afghans the hardest. Mass unemployment, a collapsing housing market, and rising malnutrition are just a few of the many visible signs of an economic catastrophe. But the Taliban, at best, inherited an already weakened state. Even before the events of last August, Afghanistan ranked last in several socio-economic indicators, such as the Human Development Index, and was plagued by conflict, need for aid and fragile institutions. Government spending on development projects has also declined in recent years, as spending has shifted to security in anticipation of expansion. The devastating sanctions against senior Taliban leaders have paralyzed the banking sector and prevented Afghanistan from engaging in the international financial system and its institutions. The value of its currency, the Afghani, has plummeted, pushing up import costs and exacerbating inflation and cost of living crises. Civilian government agencies, formerly the country’s largest employers, are no longer able to pay even the remaining staff who have been cut. To make matters worse, Afghanistan’s agricultural sector has been hit by droughts and natural disasters such as flash floods and the June 2022 earthquake.

Private banks in Afghanistan cannot cover withdrawals of depositors, including humanitarian organizations. Even if funds are sent electronically to a bank for humanitarian work, wages, or wire transfer payments, the bank has no physical cash and cannot withdraw the funds. This is because the central bank of Afghanistan, which has a shortage of banknotes in both US and Afghan currencies, has severely restricted banknote remittances to private banks and restricted Afghan withdrawals, while the US dollar ban has resulted in many Because it allows electronic transactions of sorts. As a result, private banks do not have enough local currency to cover withdrawals, carry little to no cash, and cannot lend without significant assets. Banks have also struggled to clear incoming dollar transactions through correspondent accounts of private banks abroad due to fears by foreign banks that they may be violating UN and US sanctions against the Taliban. increase. By August 2021, Afghanistan’s economy was 75% dependent on foreign aid. After the Taliban took control of the country on August 15, 2021, US-led donor governments ordered the World Bank to suspend about USD 2 billion in foreign aid previously provided through the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF). Through projects that pay the salaries of millions of teachers, health care workers and other essential workers and are funded by the International Development Association (IDA). These massive financial flows provided purchasing power to millions of Afghan families, including very poor households, who benefited from cash for work, cash distribution and livelihood assistance programs. Additional budgetary support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), USAID, and Asian Development Bank (ADB) has also been cut. As a direct result, huge numbers of Afghan households quickly lost their main source of income. A World Food Program study released in February found that in January 2022, four out of five households will report no income or a significantly reduced income. The sudden reduction in World Bank programs has led to a significant decline in purchasing power across the country, with significant impacts at both the household and macroeconomic levels. Humanitarian organizations can increase food and cash distribution in the future, but cannot offset the impact of these cuts.

Foreign Aspirations of the Taliban

Local officials and Afghan neighbours have attempted to contact the Taliban. Several countries, including Pakistan, Iran, China and Russia, have kept their embassies open to allow for active engagement with the Taliban regime, but have not officially acknowledged it. Al-Zawahiri and the Taliban’s inability to prove that they had severed ties with al-Qaeda will make it more difficult for local actors to do so, increasing the likelihood of heightened tensions between the regime and the outside world. There is no doubt about that. The Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan has also affected the security situation in neighbouring countries. Pakistan, the Taliban’s closest ally, is facing increased activity from Telik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a rebel group allied with the Taliban in Afghanistan. From August 2021 onwards, the Taliban’s main focus will be on maintaining unity within the country, and this is unlikely to change in the near future. Paying combatants and soldiers, maintaining harmony between hardliners and more pragmatic elements, and ensuring territorial control remain central to Taliban rule. Against the backdrop of economic collapse, the Taliban seek to siphon a portion of all aid to the country.

Internally, the main threats to the Taliban come from Islamic State-Khorasan State (ISIS-K) and al-Qaeda. Although the number of bombings has declined nationwide since the Taliban came to power, at least six people were killed in an explosion at a school in April. There was also a series of bomb attacks in May 2022, for which IS claimed some responsibility. In June an attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul killed two and injured seven, and in July a bomb exploded at a cricket match in Kabul, killing two. At the international level, no country has recognized the Taliban, but the Taliban leader was invited to an international conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where he was represented by 30 other countries, including representatives from the EU, the United States and the United Nations. But Western governments insist that the Taliban engage in meaningful ways and improve their record on women, human rights and inclusion in government before giving the Taliban official recognition. The two countries have met bilaterally and internationally on several occasions to discuss reconstruction plans for Afghanistan. Beijing also actively participates in various international, multilateral and bilateral consultations on Afghanistan issues with local governments and international powers. International organisations such as the Aga Khan Development Network continue to work to improve historic buildings, parks and structures.

India’s game in the Taliban uprising

India has mostly stayed silent on the Afghanistan issue. The toppling of the Ghani government has caused the loss of a very strategic partner. Through the Ghani government, India was able to establish a strong and stable partnership based on mutual development and trade with Afghanistan. However, with the Taliban regime usurping powers in Afghanistan, the security issue has been in question for India. Terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba are a huge threat to Indian integral security. Along with this, the Pakistan question is also onboard. During the Ghani administration, India was able to counter the Pakistan-backed terror moves through the Afghan resistance. Nonetheless, with the Taliban now in power there lies a deeper fear of the attainment of a stronger foothold in Pakistan and the Taliban-backed terror organisations which poses a huge risk to the borders of the country as well as the internal sanctity of the country. India had never supported the Taliban uprising in Afghanistan. India’s stance on Afghanistan politics since the toppling of the Taliban regime in the year 2001 has persistently been anti-Taliban. The return of the regime shall not bear any good fruit for India. Diplomacy and trade as well as economic linkages have degraded by a considerable amount. However, under the Modi government, there has been an attempt to have talks with the new conservative government of Afghanistan and ensure the safety of the ambassadors of India in Afghanistan. A soft stance has also been portrayed by the Taliban leadership as well towards India, stating that India and Afghanistan shall be “friendly neighbours”. However, the Jaish-e-Mohammad are already keeping bases and coaching grounds in the southern provinces that border Pakistan and might currently have additional ungoverned areas to hold out attacks against India. The Taliban`s management also will mean a much bigger hand for the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies to influence outcomes for the country, which can mandate a way smaller role for Indian development and infrastructure work that has won its goodwill over the past twenty years.

Trade under the Taliban regime would be routed through Gwadar, and also the Indian investment within the Chabahar port, meant to avoid Pakistan, might become unviable. The U.S.A. and China have already centred their attention from Central Asia through Pakistan, with the new declared U.S.-Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Quadrilateral, and Chinese plans to link the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with the Trans-Afghanistan railroad and Belt and Road initiative. Under this regime, the investments already done behind the construction of the Zaranj Delaram road and the Salma Dam remains overshadowed along with many other future development programmes.

A way forward towards a new Afghanistan under the Taliban rule

Schools reopened for the new school year in March, but the Taliban reversed earlier promises and girls are now not allowed to attend secondary school. The Taliban have accused the shortage of female teachers and the need to arrange segregation of educational institutions. An estimated 1.1 million school children have been affected, according to the United Nations, sparking widespread international criticism. Primary education was allowed for girls. Female labour force participation has increased from 15% to 22% in little over a decade from 1998 to 2019. But since the Taliban returned to power, they have tightened restrictions on women’s movement outside the home, so the proportion of working women in Afghanistan is expected to shrink to 15% by 2021. In June, the UN Security Council reported that Afghanistan’s economy had contracted by an estimated 30-40% since the Taliban took power last August. An assessment by the official agency overseeing the US-funded reconstruction effort in Afghanistan concluded that while some international aid continues to flow into the country, the economic situation remains “gloomy.” Most international aid Suspension of GDP and freezing access to Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves has had a severe economic impact on the country. To compensate, the Taliban have sought to take advantage of rising world prices by increasing tax revenues and boosting coal exports. A three-month budget released in January this year shows the Taliban raised nearly $400 million in domestic revenue for her between September 2021 and December. However, experts have expressed concern about the lack of transparency in collecting these figures. Loss of international support, security concerns, climate-related issues, and global food inflation all contribute to a rapidly deteriorating economy. The Taliban’s pledge to combat opium poppy cultivation, mirroring policies put in place when the Taliban were last in power more than two decades ago, has met with some success. It is used in manufacturing and for years Afghanistan was the world’s largest source of opium.

In April this year, the Taliban announced a ban on poppy cultivation. There is no reliable data on how the crackdown is progressing. Still, reports from several poppy-growing areas in southern Helmand province suggest that the Taliban have forced farmers to destroy poppy fields. An official in a US report in July said that while the Taliban were in danger of losing support from farmers and others involved in drug trafficking, they “appeared to be committed to their drug ban.” About 50% of casualties since August 2021 have been attributed to the actions of the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) group, a branch of the Islamic State group still operating in Afghanistan. In recent months, several IS-K attacks have occurred on civilians, especially in urban areas populated by Shiite Muslims and other minorities. The presence of other anti-Taliban forces such as the National Resistance Front (NRF) and the Afghan Freedom Front (AFF) is also increasing.

Though the Taliban rulers have promised a more liberal stance as they announced the extension of friendly relations with other foreign nations, as well as a more inclusive and incorporating environment for the women and a safe space for the children, it is only a matter of time and future predictions. The Taliban rule has always been the most notorious of all and a cause for the Afghan underdevelopment and to expect the best governance from the Taliban leadership based on the libertarian and non-conservative lines is only a question that stays highly contested.

Written By Somali Chowdhrui: Bio - I am currently pursuing my final year masters in International Relations from JMI. I graduated from University of Delhi with political science hons affiliated to Gargi college.