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By Nasir Ahmad Yousefi
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 -- Following the rapid advance of the Taliban and the fall of the country’s provinces, Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan which simultaneously led Taliban forces into the capital Kabul on Aug 15.
Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced the names of 33 members of the interim government on Sept 7th and on Sept 21 the Taliban announced the expansion of the cabinet in the war-ravaged country. But the bigger question on the minds of analysts these days is regarding the challenges that the Taliban government faces, and will they be able to overcome these challenges?
Afghanistan consists of various ethnic groups such as Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmen and Ghezelbash. Based on some reports 60 ethnic groups are stated to be living in Afghanistan. Therefore, every government in Afghanistan must represent this ethnic diversity. Forming a single ethnic-based government in a country like Afghanistan where no ethnic group constitutes a majority will surely soon have problems.
Taliban leaders such as Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, have repeatedly stated that the Taliban are seeking to form an "inclusive government" comprising all Afghan ethnic groups and tribes. Zabihullah announced the names of 33 members of the new Taliban government on Sept 7 and subsequently two weeks later on Sept 21 Taliban expanded the government with 17 more ministers, this time with several of them from non-Pashtun ethnic groups but still without any women ministers.
Among the new ministers appointed are Nooruddin Azizi, a prominent investor from the north-eastern Panjshir province, tasked to lead the Commerce and Trade Ministry, while Mohammad Bashir and Mohammad Azim Sultanzada two traders from the northern Baghlan and Sar-e-Pul provinces respectively were appointed by the Taliban as First and Second Deputy Ministers respectively to the ministry.
Qalandar Ebad has been appointed acting head of the Ministry of Public Health, and Abdul Bari Omar and Mohammad Hassan Ghiasi have been appointed as his deputies. The Taliban says Ghiasi is a Hazara.
Areas outside the control of the government are the best areas for terrorist groups to be present in a situation where one group or government cannot expand its dominance over the whole country. Afghanistan’s geography, along with a bankrupt government in recent years, has provided the perfect environment for terrorist groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda in the country.
The Taliban have pledged that Afghanistan will not become a base for any terrorist groups. The group is forced to fight the Daesh (ISIS) affiliate ISIS-Khorasan, or ISIS-K as well as Al-Qaeda for which once the Taliban provided a safe heaven to operate from during their first term in power.
This is in order to bring complete control over the country and for their government to gain legitimacy from the international community. However, it seems in the current situation the fledgling Taliban government does not have all the resources to do so.
Domestic and international legitimacy
The Taliban are well aware that the group’s internal legitimacy depends on a change in its past rigid view of Afghan society. A large section of Afghanistan’s educated, and middle-class citizens do not have faith in the Taliban. For this reason, the Taliban have a long way to go to gain public trust and satisfy a large section of the Afghan society. The Taliban clearly understands they cannot expect the support of all the ethnic groups, if people perceived the Pashtun ethnic group trying to dominate other ethnic groups in the country.
On the other hand, the recognition of the Taliban government by the international community is also subject to the "formation of an inclusive government", and many governments, including the European Union, have explicitly stated that they would only accept a government that represents the whole of Afghan society.
Lack of specialised personnel:
Another problem facing the Taliban is the country’s internal and external administration. Taliban forces have little knowledge about complex administrative and organisational matters other than fighting in the mountains and valleys. With this level of literacy and training of its leaders, commanders and field forces, the Taliban surely faces difficulties to run the country and provide a good model of governance to the world.
Managing Afghanistan’s society today, with its collapsed political, economic, and social structure stuck between tradition and modernity, in which a nation-state is not literally formed, is a very difficult task that the Taliban shoulders. Taliban needs to engage actively with technocrats and bureaucrats to effectively govern the country.
The most important and urgent challenge for the Taliban today is economic problems. The Taliban need vast financial resources to increase the value of the national currency, reduce inflation, fund government departments, fight the Covid 19 pandemic, battle famine and hunger, provide public goods, and simultaneously meet military and security challenges.
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, a lot of foreign aid was given to the country for reconstruction, but due to the severe financial corruption in the government, many of these aids were not spent for the right and appropriate purposes. More than $US10 billion of Central Bank of Afghanistan assets are outside the country, which for the West is a lever of pressure on the Taliban.
Work and education of women:
Taliban claimed that they follow Islam and are establishing an Islamic emirate. In Islam the education of men and women is encouraged and is even an obligation imposed upon every Muslim. In a recent announcement by the Taliban, they allowed primary schools up to sixth grade to be opened for girls. Based on the Taliban announcement, it’s expected that high schools and universities are to be opened for girls and women in Afghanistan soon.
According to the World Bank collection of development indicators, women population in Afghanistan is reported to be about 48 per cent in 2020. A considerable percentage of these women are breadwinners for their families. Taliban should consider that the educated and professional women in Afghanistan can contribute to the nation to face these challenging times. They should utilise these talents to benefit the country rather than ignoring or limiting their activities.
As mentioned, the Taliban government faces wide-ranging challenges in political, economic, security and social fields. It cannot be denied, and the Taliban is also aware about this - that the government is facing problems to gain public trust and global legitimacy.
On the other hand, the Taliban urgently needs financial resources to overcome the important economic challenges faced by Afghanistan and prevent the collapse of the country’s economy, an issue that cannot be achieved without recognition by the international community. We must be patient. The future of the Taliban government depends on how good it will address all these challenges.
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