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Poverty and Politics: An Insight into Taliban Rule

Sima Mangal

Afghanistan is a country known to many as the graveyard of empires, a country that has been unconquered over the many years of war, poverty, and helplessness that it has faced. In light of this, the Afghan people still hold onto a hope that one day they’ll see their homeland return to its former golden ages, where women and men were provided with opportunities in both work placements and educational institutions.

With the recent Taliban takeover in August 2021, many foreign officials, the American army, and Afghans themselves fled Afghanistan in fear of what was yet to come. The future’s potential bleakness is what has led to the widespread panic and inferiority of many.

During the two years that the Taliban government has taken over, much has changed within the social, economic, and environmental spheres. The Taliban are often seen and referred to as a group of Afghan locals, often farmers, whose aims are to implement Sharia law throughout the country. From the Taliban government’s intensification of religion to the educational rights of women, there has become a fine line between whether they are producing laws to protect nationals or obstructing the natural human rights of individuals.

The United Nations (UN) has held strong beliefs in refusing to internationally recognise the Taliban government, due to the lack of human rights given to women in Afghanistan. However, what the UN fails to realise is that a lack of international aid and recognition will only further implicate hardships for the people of Afghanistan, who are already facing the harsh results of poverty.

According to reports by The Asian Development Bank, in 2020, 49.9% of the population lived below the national poverty line. From this, the situation is only yet to worsen as UN Reports in September 2021 have shown that 97% of the population in Afghanistan will be at risk of facing poverty as many individuals, families, and even children are turning to humanitarian aid after the Taliban takeover.

The political instability of the country and its failing economy is mainly a result of the lack of support Afghanistan is facing, recognising the situation to be that of a grave humanitarian issue throughout the World. Despite this, there are still many small and big charities and organisations - such as Daanish Foundation UK or UNICEF - who work actively to support the Afghan people by providing clean water, sanitation, food, clothing and home-schooling. Further, there are over 183 national and international NGOs that are actively providing support within Afghanistan under the Taliban Government.

With the UN placing human rights at the forefront of why the Taliban government is not being recognised, women’s rights have been the main area of concern - but whether the promise that the Taliban government has made on news channels of allowing women to be educated will be fulfilled or not is still in question. There is still space to debate the nature of the Taliban government which, for the past two years, has been ‘working’ on allowing women back into public spaces of education and work.

Not only is the lack of education a big issue for women but also their right to work, freedom to go outdoors and travel without a male relative remains a problem. Hence why that even though the Taliban is trying to implement a more Islamic environment, it fails to recognise that Islamic values also provide many rights for women that aren’t implemented by this current government. These beliefs cover aspects from educational to housing to working rights - all of which are core and fundamental segments of the rights that Islam allows for women.

Therefore, the real questions are: What is the true intention of this government, if it doesn’t truly implement Islamic values? And how does the UN look to resolve the issues of the Humanitarian Crisis that local Afghans are facing?

The main issue with the government isn’t its implementation of religion, but its lack of understanding when it comes to bettering the economy and the rights of individuals.

Nevertheless, there have been certain cases where the Taliban Governance has produced certain rights for women; for example, a decree in December 2021 was implemented that aimed to put an end to forced marriages, ensuring that women had the right to consent to whom they marry as well as creating more rights for widowed women. Whilst there is a slow progression of rights for women in Afghanistan, actions like these are in accordance with the UN’s aims; nevertheless, the UN is mainly fixated on the larger and more prominent human right issues for women - such as education - which has been the main reason as to why providing support and aid for Afghanistan has been more challenging.

Afghanistan has faced many years of conflict and poverty since the 1970s due to the communist conflict, which has consequently seen the uprising of many groups seeking governance - including the Taliban. Over the years, the situation has become even more dire, as foreign countries - like America - have tried to implement and secure their position in Afghanistan.

Even though the Afghan people seek and receive aid from international and national non-governmental organisations, it still hasn’t been enough to fully rectify the situation of human rights and the economic crises there.

The UN is still yet to produce a sufficient and concrete way to create long-lasting and effective solutions to help better the living standards of local Afghans. On the contrary, the Taliban governance is facing many instabilities without the lack of funds and their promises to introduce more human rights in Afghanistan are still in question.

Image: Getty Images

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