The Taliban’s consolidation of power in Afghanistan has reached the two-year mark since their takeover following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces after two decades of conflict. With minimal opposition and a united front behind their steadfast leader, the Taliban’s control remains unshaken. While international recognition remains elusive, the group has sustained the struggling economy by initiating investment discussions with financially robust regional neighbours.
Enhanced domestic security has been achieved through measures against armed groups like the Islamic State. Additionally, efforts to combat corruption and opium production are underway. However, the second year of Taliban rule has been primarily marked by a series of prohibitions imposed on Afghan women and girls. Over a short span, they have been barred from parks, gyms, universities, and roles within non-governmental organisations and the United Nations. These restrictions have been linked to perceived violations of Islamic dress codes and gender segregation rules. An earlier ban, issued in the first year of Taliban rule, prevented girls from attending school beyond the sixth grade.
As international attention wanes, many Afghans feel abandoned and overlooked. Addressing the ongoing humanitarian crisis without reinforcing the Taliban’s oppressive policies against women presents a significant challenge for donor countries, as Human Rights Watch highlights. The censorship of local media and the obstruction of international broadcasts have created information gaps within Afghanistan, hindering accurate reporting.
Taliban security forces have been implicated in arbitrary detentions, torture, and summary executions targeting former security personnel and individuals associated with armed resistance groups. Meanwhile, the Islamic State’s Afghan affiliate has conducted numerous attacks on schools and mosques, disproportionately affecting ethnic Hazara Shia communities that lack adequate security and access to essential services.
Human Rights groups urge governments engaging with the Taliban to exert pressure for a reversal of these restrictive measures and a restoration of fundamental rights. A significant number of Afghan refugees remain in uncertain conditions across third countries such as Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and Turkey. Governments connected to Afghanistan hold a responsibility to ensure meaningful access to legal and secure pathways for those at risk, expediting resettlement efforts.
Afghanistan’s stability, the urgency of providing assistance to those most at risk remains paramount. The failure to do so will inevitably mark August 2024 as yet another challenging milestone in Afghanistan’s complex journey.