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EDITORIAL: The Afghan Taliban have failed to keep their initial promises. They had announced general amnesty for all. In a new report the UN says it has received “credible allegations” that more than 100 members of the ousted Afghan government, its security forces, and those who worked with the US-led coalition forces have been killed. Nearly a two-thirds of them were extra-judicial killings committed by the de facto authorities or their affiliates.

Taliban officials have rejected these ‘allegations’ but not denied the killings, saying the reported deaths were linked to “personal enmity”. The claim though is belied by the fact that all victims happened to be affiliated with the former government and foreign troops. The report also notes that “human rights defenders and media workers continue to come under attack, intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and killings.”

It may be recalled that soon after takeover of Kabul on August 15, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen had said Afghan women will have the right to work and pursue education up to university level. And that they will be expected to wear hijabs (headscarves) but not the all-covering burqas. Almost six months later, women are still not allowed to go to work. Girls’ schools remain shut. In the few private schools and colleges that are open female students, teachers and all others have been instructed to come fully covered. Also, women have been banned from travelling long distances without being chaperoned by a close male relative and public transport owners ordered not give rides to women unless draped in burqas.

The new rulers of Kabul have reneged on their other pledges as well such as formation of an inclusive government. A major undertaking they had given the international community was that no one will be allowed to use Afghan soil against any other country.

Yet they have refused to oust the so-called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. In fact, it has intensified attacks on military as well as civilian targets, planned and executed from across the border in Afghanistan. Other countries have their own concerns about the presence of certain violent extremist groups as well as rights issues, hence refusing to accord diplomatic recognition to the Taliban government.

The people are paying a heavy price for their new rulers’ reckless policies. Afghan central bank’s $ 9.5 billion in assets remain frozen in the US whilst the country’s foreign aid-dependent economy is on the verge of collapse.

As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out in his reaction to the present report, Afghanistan faces multiple crises: a growing humanitarian emergency, a massive economic contraction, the crippling of its banking and financial systems, the worst drought in 27 years, and the Taliban’s failure to form an inclusive government and restore the rights of girls to education and women to work.

Although last month, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution clearing the way for aid to reach Afghan people in desperate need of basic support, international sanctions stay in place.

The Taliban would be wise to understand that the deepening humanitarian crisis can explode in yet another disastrous internecine conflict.

It is in their own interests as of their people that they addressed the international community’s concerns. Be that as it may, it is, however, heartening to note that Afghanistan’s public universities opened yesterday for the first time since the Taliban returned to power last year, with female students joining their male counterparts heading back to campus.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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