Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

Three Challenging Issues: Abuse of Power, Religion, Leverage

Deadlock in peace talks continues as the Taliban group is still engaged in foul play. There is agreement over the complete troop withdrawal but not about the reduction in violence and declaration of ceasefire. The US-Taliban peace agreement simply emboldened the Taliban to intensify their attacks. Afghanistan’s neighboring countries as well as regional and global stakeholders, notwithstanding their promises of support, have so far ignored the escalated militancy and act as spectators.
The people of Afghanistan, mainly civilians, suffer severely as a result of the Taliban’s intensified attacks. It appears that the government officials have no solution to the ongoing conflict. People are killed and their houses are occupied by the Taliban, however, officials seek to justify their weakness. The constant takeover of districts by the Taliban fighters is called “tactical retreat” and people are called to keep silent since talking about the takeover of districts or casualties will be tantamount to supporting the Taliban.
The people, however, are frustrated and furious, saying that, in addition to other reasons such as foreign support to the Taliban militants, the huge corruption within the government machinery could be one of the main reasons behind the repeated defeat of Afghan army in the fight against the Taliban. MPs also put the honesty and activities of security chiefs under question as they noted that the Interior Ministry has been run by acting minister and Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid returned to Kabul after a six-month trip abroad but stayed only for a few days before traveling again. The long and repeated trips of Khalid at the current critical time is highly disconcerting and shows his carelessness towards the security situation. The security chiefs should respond to the MPs and people and point out the reason/reasons behind their irresponsibility. How could a defense minister travel for six months at the time of war? Is he still an honest and qualified person for the ministry? Is the president aware of his long trip and still silent? Many questions rise in one’s mind to be answered.
On the other hand, the question is that since the Taliban do not honor their deal with the United States and continue their acts of violence and bloodshed without discussing ceasefire or declaration of violence, why the Biden administration is simply watching? Why the US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who remained optimistic about the situation and meddled the release of more than 5,000 Taliban prisoners, including the most dangerous ones, can do nothing about the situation? The silence and inability of Khalilzad, who kind of guaranteed reduction in violence, is infuriating. The people of Afghanistan view him no more than a disloyal figure after he played the role of mediator in releasing Taliban prisoners without achieving any positive results. Worst, he could not prevent those released prisoners from returning to the battlefields. The deadlock in peace talks is a bitter pill for him to swallow.
The Taliban group, which acts under the mask of religion, justifies its violence and bloodshed under religious terms. In other words, the Taliban commit every crime under religious justifications. For instance, they do not honor their deal, spill the blood of soldiers and civilians, smuggle narcotic drug, burn schools and hospitals to the ground and occupy residential houses under the cover of religion. The majority of the Taliban, mainly their fighters, lack basic knowledge about religion. Although Islamic clerics, in a meeting in Saudi Arabia, said that the ongoing war in Afghanistan has no religious justifications, the Taliban continue their violence without regard to the statements of the clerics from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Hence, one concludes that religion does not carry any significance for the Taliban, who fight for gaining power at the costs of thousands of lives. Religion is just an instrument for them to obtain their objectives and mislead the people. Poor “jihad”, badly capitalized on by religious radicals, including the Taliban group.
Overall, the government and officials have to be committed to their duties and responsibilities. They should stop personal business and fulfill their duties with commitment. Corrupt officials should be, at least, removed from their posts, and law needs to be followed. Officials should not abuse power.
Meanwhile, regional and global stakeholders have to put their weight behind the peace process and pressure the Taliban to stop their acts of violence and bloodshed and find a solution through negotiations. Neighboring countries and stakeholders have to stop abuse of their political leverage.
The Taliban should stop capitalizing on religious tenets and sit at the table with genuine intention. They have to stop killing people since there is no religious justification for their militancy. They will not win through military approach since their fighters also sustain heavy casualties. Hence, the Taliban leadership had better reduce violence and return to the negotiating table. The Taliban should stop abusing religion.