Taliban vs. Afghanistan

The blatant violation of human rights and the on-going violence against marginalized groups in Afghanistan remain an open secret.

By Ali Hassan Bangwar | April 2023

The land of Afghanistan has remained an abode of international rivalry and instability for centuries. The people of the country could hardly witness peace on their soil right from British invasions to the ideological clashes between the cold war rivals as well as the rise of militancy to the US invasion in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Instead of resolving the roots of instability, the US invasion has only added to anarchy, militancy, economic fragility and political instability. Like elsewhere in the world, the blatant US intervention and the so-called civilizing project miserably failed and further added to the miseries of the public.

However, achieving no expected outcome, the US made all-out efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan. Though the efforts of withdrawal as face-saving began by his predecessor, the then-Trump administration had made a major peace breakthrough with the Taliban. The deal came to be known as The Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan, also called the Doha Agreement or the US-Taliban deal. Taliban political head Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and the US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad signed the deal on February 2020 in the presence of the then-US State Secretary Mike Pompeo. The agreement was hailed to be a practical framework to end an 18–year long protracted war and a pragmatic peace initiative for Afghanistan.

Under the agreement, binding obligations were set for both the Taliban and the USA. That the USA would withdraw its troops within the stipulated time for guarantees from the Taliban topped the agenda. A ceasefire and reduction in violence would be a pre-condition for a productive engagement on other terms. Moreover, the intra-Afghan Dialogue made an important term of the deal to which the Taliban reluctantly agreed. According to it, negotiations with the mainstream Afghan political leadership would be carried out for lasting stability and inclusive post-withdrawal, political culture. An assurance from the Taliban on terrorist organizations was also sought in the deal. Pursuant to the same, the Taliban would not allow space for al-Qaeda, self-proclaimed ISIS, and other militant organizations on the Afghan soil. The USA also expected compliance with fundamental human rights in Afghanistan from the Taliban.

The deal ultimately culminated in to complete withdrawal of the US and ISAF forces from Afghanistan. This was immediately followed by the fall of Kabul in the clutches of the Taliban in August 2021. Since then, world organizations and countries, including the USA, have called on the Taliban to conform to the terms of the Doha Agreement and the humanitarian norms. To this end, the recognition of the Taliban government was made conditional to its conformity to international humanitarian norms and the prerequisites of statehood. However, one and a half-year after the fall of Kabul, the Taliban appear oblivious to the commitments of the Doha Agreement and the international humanitarian regimes. The USA, international rights organizations and the world community have voiced concern about the Taliban’s lacklustre stance on political engagement, militant groups and human rights.

As far as the commitment to engaging in Intra-Afghan political reconciliation is concerned, the Taliban have repeatedly rejected the need for political dialogue. Contrary to the commitments and the consistent demands from the international community to form an inclusive government with due representation for women and marginalized communities, no pragmatic development has so far happened. The current Taliban have no representation for women or the ones outside their ranks.

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