Afghans Grapple with a Desolate Reality of Life under Taliban

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It’s yet another horrific day for the ordinary citizens of Afghanistan. In a country ripped apart by war in the past two decades between Taliban militants and US-backed troops and Afghan armed forces, they’ve come face-to-face with a grim reality.

The Taliban has already overrun 11 provincial capitals, and the day is not far when they will wrest control of Kabul and Kandahar, the latter of which has been a stronghold of its oppressive regime.

Enforcement of Regressive Policies

Teachers have learned the hard way how they were being surveilled continuously by the Taliban, known for pursuing a regressive policy forbidding education, especially those of girls.

 One Mah Jan, who didn’t give away her last name due to apprehensions of being targeted, had briefly lifted her burqa momentarily when she was accosted by an elder who relayed the Talibanis’ message that if she committed the same infractions again, she would be put down forever. 

The rapid pace with which the Taliban have regained control after the US decided to pull out its troops in May this year is alarming. The citizens have been abandoned to fend for themselves.

Some join the ranks of the Taliban either willingly or forcefully, low-income families are compelled to feed the gluttonous pugilists, girls’ schools have been demolished and desecrated, and several hundreds of families have been displaced from their homes.

The Taliban monitored teachers and their relationship with foreign aid groups, which invited animosity on the former’s behalf.

Even though they did not overtly hinder these endeavours at the peak of its power in 2001, to quote Mah Jan, “they’ve grown more brutal now.”

Any form of technology, gadgets and entertainment have been banned outright. If a single girl is spotted using a smartphone, she is bullied and harassed on the charges that she talked to a boy.

“If a boy hears his favourite songs, they break his memory card and stash it away, giving an austere warning of getting whipped next time the same infractions are committed,” said one Ansari, who refused to give away her full name.

According to the International Organization for Migration, the Taliban’s advancements have resulted in a record-high 360,000 displacements this year.

Many displaced families are taking refuge in Mazar-e-Sharif, the provincial capital of Balkh. They’ve no choice but to brave both the harsh weather and the ruthless militants and have constructed temporary tents out of nowhere due to the loss of their homes.

Adversaries and Non-Compliant People Targeted

The police and several armed force are surrendering en masse. Some who have persisted despite ultimatums are being mercilessly tortured, assaulted and executed.

Naimat Samadi recounts how his unit was summoned to rescue trapped colleagues amidst gunbattle in an overrun post in Almar. The crew was subsequently ambushed and their escape blocked by boulders.

A sniper shot down a commander who got out of the car. Samadi was rescued the following day by Afghan soldiers. But, a few hours later, the terrible tidings of Almar’s capture was received.

Samadi says that his house has already been destroyed and that he has fled with his family to avoid persecution at the hands of their assailants.

The strife has rendered an unpleasant and obnoxious effect even in the minds of innocent, unsuspecting children.

Nader Nabizada, a father of four children, remarks how his children have spent countless nights underfed and being incessantly devoid of food or nutrition. 

There was a particularly murky incident of clash betwixt Afghan security forces and the Taliban, in which both sides suffered losses.

The Taliban forbid burial and cremation of corpses, despite them giving off a foul odour and its decay.

This has left a dark impression on Nabizada’s 3-year old boy, who dreams about becoming a “war machine” and ripping apart the Taliban, fantasizing violence in a country that has not known peace for decades.

Political Developments

Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has given a televised address to his nation, allaying some misconceptions and fears, and saying that he strives to bring instability and peace by offering talks and a power-sharing deal, amid some rumours that he may quit. 

The US has already sent its troops for evacuation of its diplomatic personnel and citizens.

Even so, the unleashing of a fresh wave of anarchy and crimes against humanity remains imminent in this war-torn country unless there’s an intervention to avert it.

Priyanshu Mohanty
Priyanshu Mohanty
Professionally, an undergraduate student, pursuing B.Tech. in Computer Science Engineering and personally, a happy-go-lucky guy, he's someone who staunchly believes in the maxim of Carpe Diem. Apart from his obvious fervour & zest for penning down poetry and short stories (prince91001.wixsite.com/website), which helps him to unwind and seek temporary haven in contemplation and retrospection, he likes to dabble in a gamut of wide-ranging endeavours like working on software projects related to data science nocturnally, association with an NGO, appreciating the didacticism of Longfellow, exploring the cosmos' mysteries or playing encephalon-tickling games, to name a few. In a nutshell, he's a jack of many trades and master of, well, some.

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