Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
By Mahua Venkatesh
Afghanistan, especially its social hue, in the last two decades has dramatically changed, something that the Taliban or even Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that played a key role in government formation in the country after the US troops withdrawal, may not have accounted for.
Foreign policy watchers told India Narrative that the young Afghans – typically those who are in their 20s and 30s-- are now used to a different life which has been free, democratic and open.
"For the Taliban, the biggest challenge is to gain acceptability of the people of Afghanistan, who are now used to their freedom and are quite conscious of their rights—men and women both," one of them said, adding that it may not be easy for the hardline government to manage them even in the medium term.
Women at a cycling rally in Kabul, 2018. wikimedia
As the Taliban took control of Kabul, the prominent faces of the outfit including the that of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai among others had portrayed that the second innings of their regime would be a moderate and inclusive one. However, the relatively moderate faces of the Taliban have been conveniently sidelined. Essentially Taliban 2.0 is just a repeat of Taliban 1.0 which is austere and anti-modern. Paksitan's ultra-conservative Inter Services Intelligence which cut its teeth after former President Zia Ul Haq had instituionalised Islamisation of the military, played a seminal role in yanking back the Taliban into its ultra-orthodox roots. ISI chief Faiz Hameed camped in Kabul to form a "caretaker" government which had the terror tainted and criminalised Haqqani network at its core.
The UN blacklisted Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund-led government has already passed a diktat, asking women to stay at home.
Afghanistan traditionally known for its progressive thinking had granted equality to its women in 1964. Though under the Taliban rule in the 1990s, these rights were snatched away, they were restored in 2004.
Afghan women in 1927, during the reform period of Amanullah Khan. wikimedia
"This is a turning point…sooner or later the country will break into a serious civil war…that apart men and women of the country are unlikely to accept the Taliban rule," the analyst pointed out.
Afghanistan and Afghan women changed over the past two decades, said Ramzia Abdekhil, a university student told Hurriyet Daily News.
"The Taliban should understand this: Today's Afghanistan is not like the one they ruled 20 years ago. Back then, they did whatever they wanted to do, and we kept silent. Not anymore, we'll not remain silent. We won't accept whatever they say, we won't wear burqas and sit at home," the newspaper quoted Adbekhil as saying.
Notably, women from across the country have been spearheading protests.
That apart, the world community is closely watching the developments in Afghanistan. Apart from China and Pakistan and a few others, the world community has not come forth in showing their willingness to work with the Taliban.
Several countries in the Middle East that gave immediate recognition to the Taliban last time have also maintained stoic silence. Not just that. Several of them, including India have made a clear distinction between the people of the country and the Taliban regime.
"In today's context the Taliban's calculation may have gone wrong, we will have to carefully watch the situation that unfolds in the next few months," the analyst said.
(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)(IANS/HP)
keywords: Taliban, Afghanistan, Afghans, Afghan women
Afghan women around the world are protesting the Taliban's new hijab diktat in schools by posting photos of themselves wearing colorful traditional dresses on social media, CNN reported.
The Taliban have mandated the segregation of genders in classrooms and said that female students, lecturers and employees must wear hijabs in accordance with the group's interpretation of Sharia law. Photos have emerged of a group of female students wearing head-to-toe black robes and waving Taliban flags in the lecture hall of a government-run university in Kabul. Other Afghan women responded by posting pictures of themselves in bright and colorful traditional Afghan dresses -- a stark contrast to the black hijab mandate outlined by the Taliban.
Afghan women protest Taliban's hijab diktat by sharing photos in colourful dresses. by ians
Bahar Jalali, a former faculty member of the American University of Afghanistan according to her LinkedIn profile, helped kick off the picture posting campaign, according to other women who shared photos on Twitter., CNN reported.
Jalali tweeted a picture of a woman in a full black dress and veil and said: "No woman has ever dressed like this in the history of Afghanistan. This is utterly foreign and alien to Afghan culture. I posted my pic in the traditional Afghan dress to inform, educate and dispel the misinformation that is being propagated by Taliban." Other Afghan women soon followed her lead on social media, the report added.
Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi, head of the Afghan service at DW News, tweeted a picture of herself in traditional Afghan dress and headdress with the comment: "This is Afghan culture and this is how Afghan women dress."
Shekiba Teimori, an Afghan singer and activist who fled Kabul last month, told CNN that the "hijab existed before Kabul's fall. We could see Hijabi women, but this was based on family decisions and not the government." She said before the Taliban came to Afghanistan, her ancestors were "wearing the same colorful Afghan dresses you see in my pictures".(IANS/HP)
Keywords: Afghan Women, Afghanistan, Sharia law, Taliban, Hijab Diktat, Afghan dresses
When the Taliban gained control of most of Afghanistan in 1996, they enforced a strict version of Shariah, or Islamic law. Their interpretation of the Islamic system of governance barred women from working and permitted public executions.
Now that the Taliban are once again in control of the country, Afghans fear the return of their brutal rule, which the Taliban says is derived from Shariah. In an exclusive interview Wednesday with Reuters, senior Taliban commander Waheedullah Hashimi explained that Afghanistan will not have a democratic system.
An Afghan soldier stands in a military vehicle on a street in Kabul Image source: voavoa
"We will not discuss what type of political system should we apply in Afghanistan because it is clear. It is Sharia law and that is it," he told the news agency.
Here is a look at the Islamic legal system.
What is Shariah?
In Arabic, Shariah means "a path to water," or some say, "a path to be followed."
Shariah is the legal practice derived from the teachings of the Quran, Islam's holy book, and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, or Sunnah. It serves as an ordained code for fair, moral and righteous living for Muslims and provides guidance on a variety of aspects of life.
Taliban at Kabul Image source: voawikimedia
How is Shariah practiced?
Countries that employ Shariah have varying levels of the practice incorporated into their legal systems. Some nations use Shariah as their national law, but most countries have mixed legal systems that combine traditional Islamic jurisprudence and a constitution.
In its 2004 constitution, elements of Shariah were integrated into Afghanistan's government.
When the Taliban controlled the country from 1996 to 2001, they imposed an extreme version of the law that included brutal punishments such as stonings and dismemberment — actions that were condemned by human rights groups around the world.
Like the Christian faith, Islam has multiple sects, such as Sunni and Shi'ite, which divide further into sub-sects. There are differences in how each sect interprets Shariah or Islamic jurisprudence.
Taliban fighters sit on a vehicle in a street in Jalalabad province, Afghanistan Image source: voavoa
Do Muslims support Shariah?
Some surveys suggest that support for this style of discipline varies greatly in Muslim countries. Tariq Ramadan, a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, has suggested a moratorium on corporal punishment in Islamic nations that follow strict Shariah.
Sharia law and women's rights in Afghanistan ?
In 1996, the Taliban were particularly restrictive toward Afghan women, who were primarily confined to their homes and unable to leave their residences without a male chaperone and were subjected to public beatings if they disobeyed.
The Taliban recently said they would be more moderate with respect to women's rights. According to the BBC, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stated that women will be allowed to participate in society if they live according to Shariah, and "we will be happy, and they will be happy." (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Shariah Law, Taliban, Afghanistan, Afghan women, What Is Shariah?, How is Shariah practiced?
First Afghan Women’s Orchestra Tries to Change Attitudes in a deeply conservative country where Music seen as ‘immoral’
Kabul, March 31, 2017: Afghanistan’s first – and only – all-female symphony is trying to change attitudes in a deeply conservative country where many see music as immoral, especially for women.
The symphony’s two conductors show how difficult that can be, but also how satisfying success is.
One of them, Negin Khpolwak, was supported by her father when she joined the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and then became part of its girls’ orchestra, called Zohra. But the rest of her family was deeply against it. Her uncles cut off ties with her father.
“They told him he is not their brother anymore,” said Khpolwak, now 20. “Even my grandmother disowned my father.”
Check out NewsGram for latest international news updates.
Khwolpak had learned about the music institute at the orphanage in Kabul where she spent most of her life. Her father sent her to the orphanage because he was afraid for her safety in their home province of Kunar in eastern Afghanistan, an area where Taliban militants are active.
The institute is one of the only schools in Afghanistan where girls and boys share classrooms, and it draws its students from the ranks of orphanages and street children, giving them a chance at a new life. Khpolwak studied piano and drums before becoming the orchestra’s conductor.
First international tour
More than 30 girls aged 12 to 20 play in Zohra, which is named after a goddess of music in Persian literature. In January, the orchestra, which performs traditional Afghan and Western Classical music, had its first international tour, appearing at the World Economic Forum in Davos and four other cities in Switzerland and Germany.
“The formation of the orchestra is aimed at sending a positive message to the community, to send a positive message to the girls, to encourage families and girls to join the music scene of the country,” said Ahmad Naser Sarmast, the institute’s founder, and director.
Sarmast has experienced firsthand the militants’ hatred of music. In 2014, a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up at a concert Sarmast was attending. He was wounded and a German man in the audience died.
NewsGram brings to you top news around the world today.
The Zohra orchestra was created in 2014 when one of the institute’s students, a girl named Meena, asked Sarmast if there could be a group where girls could play together. Sarmast leaped at the idea.
Since then, Meena has disappeared. Last year, the 7th grader told the school she had to attend her sister’s wedding in her family’s village in eastern Nangarhar province. She never returned, a sign of how tenuous people’s situation is in a country where war rages, communications are poor and poverty is rife. Sarmast said the school has not been in contact with her, but he’s hopeful she’ll return to the school and Zohra.
The orchestra’s other conductor, 18-year-old Zarifa Adiba, faced resistance from her family just as Khpolwak did.
When she joined the school in 2014, she only told her mother and stepfather, not her four brothers and her uncles, because she knew they would disapprove. Her mother and step-father tried to tell them about the importance of music – without mentioning Adiba – but they weren’t convinced.
“If my brothers and uncles had known about me learning or playing music, they 100 percent would have stopped me because they had a very negative view toward music,” Adiba said.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook
Her family’s opposition to music was so intense she hesitated to join the orchestra’s trip to Davos. But she ended up going, and as one of the conductors she was widely interviewed in the media there and appeared on TV.
When she returned, her uncles were the first to congratulate her. Two of her brothers are still not happy about her involvement with music but now she has the support of the rest of the family, she has more courage, and she said she is sure her brothers will eventually come around.
“I changed my family, now it is time for other girls to change their families because I am sure that slowly all Afghanistan will change,” she said. (VOA)