Fearing Afghanistan’s Development, Taliban Prevents Girl’s Education, Reports IRCRA

Tuesday, 06/11/2024

The International Research Council For Religious Affairs (IRCRA) reported that the Kandahari Taliban adopt a stricter and more conservative stance on girls' education compared to the Haqqani Network and the Taliban from Paktika.

According to this Pakistani organisation, the Taliban, fearing the progress of Afghanistan, prevent the education of girls.

This research, titled "Taliban Profile: Views and Strategies," examines the policies and perspectives of the Taliban over the past year.

The researchers traveled to Afghanistan and interviewed dozens of Taliban officials, including Mullah Shirin, the group's governor in Kandahar and senior advisor to Hibatullah Akhundzada, Taliban leader, as well as researchers and members of Afghan civil society.

A copy of this report has been obtained by Afghanistan International.

The authors of the IRCRA believe that the Kandahari Taliban oppose girls' education because they fear that allowing women in public spaces will "lead Afghanistan towards modernisation and progress”.

The study states that the Kandahari Taliban believe that "granting rights to women will blur the boundaries between democracy and Islamic Sharia”.

Fragmentation Within Taliban

The IRCRA noted that the Taliban is a fragmented movement with noticeable regional divisions. Their approach to the Taliban's ideology also varies.

The report identifies three main divisions within the Taliban: extremist/moderate, tribal/regional (such as the contrast between Kandahari and Paktika Taliban), and the distinction between military forces and the political class.

Despite internal rumours of dissent, the Pakistani research institution believes that the Taliban leader's control over the group is "stable and unchallenged”.

Rural vs Urban Taliban

The authors suggest that Kandahari Taliban leaders have lived in rural areas, while Haqqani Network leaders have resided in Pakistani cities, influencing their views on issues like women's education and relations with the outside world.

The study indicates that Kandahari Taliban, who lived in remote areas of Pakistan such as Chaman, Qilla Abdullah, Qilla Saifullah, Kuchlak, and the outskirts of Quetta, were not familiar with modern urban phenomena like women's education.

Conversely, the Taliban from Paktika, who mostly live in Kabul, Khost, Paktia, Paktika, and parts of Logar, have relatively open views on issues like women's education due to their experiences living in Pakistani cities like Islamabad, Bannu, Peshawar, and Dera Ismail Khan.

The study also notes that the Paktika Taliban, due to their close ties with foreign militants like Al-Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and their urban experiences, are considered relatively moderate, pragmatic, and open to engagement with the world.

Power and Influence in Kandahar

The IRCRA states that the Kandahari Taliban comprise religious scholars and jihadist commanders residing in Kandahar, Helmand, Farah, Uruzgan, and parts of Nimroz. Kandahar is the group's power center, and the Kandahari Taliban have significant influence within the Taliban leadership.

Hibatullah's Inner Circle

This organisation provided information about members of Hibatullah’s close circle. According to the study, Khalid Hanafi, Minister for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice; Fariduddin Mahmood, Head of the Academy of Sciences; Yousuf Wafa, Governor of Balkh; Mullah Shirin, Governor of Kandahar; Abdul Hakim Haqqani, Minister of Justice; Noor Mohammad Saqib, Minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs, and Habibullah Agha, Minister of Education, are close advisors to the Taliban leader.

These individuals advise the group’s leader on important issues, especially those related to religious matters and foreign affairs.

5,000-Strong Suicide Unit

The study revealed that Hibatullah has formed an independent 5,000-strong unit for suicide bomber forces. The IRCRA noted, "The Taliban leader holds great respect for those who voluntarily join the suicide unit."

Despite the end of the war against the US and the former Afghan government, the Taliban's suicide units remain active.

The report stated that the Taliban leader closely oversees the support to the families of deceased fighters, who are under the care of the Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled Affairs. This initiative aims not only to address these families' needs, but also to strengthen loyalty within the Taliban ranks.

Security Apparatus Monopolised by Taliban

The study highlighted that the Taliban only allow their members and relatives into the security apparatus. Taliban fighters have been promised gradual integration into the army and police.

The chances for non-Taliban individuals to join the army and police are very low.

Doha Office's Diminished Credibility

The study noted that some Taliban members view the Doha office with suspicion, causing a rift between Taliban commanders and Doha office members who have engaged in political negotiations with foreign officials over the past few years.

According to an analyst close to a Taliban commander, the Taliban commanders and fighters feel that Doha office members have a luxurious and comfortable life. Additionally, they believe the Doha office members have been given undue credit for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, while the commanders feel they played the primary role in forcing the US to leave.

The report stated that the Taliban leader has the final say on foreign policy matters.

While it appears that regional countries are moving towards recognising the Taliban, the IRCRA noted that these countries remain cautious. The global community prefers engagement with the Taliban without official recognition, focusing mainly on humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Crackdown on Salafists

The study reported that the Taliban have brutally cracked down on Salafists, whom they accuse of supporting ISIS. This suppression extends to banning Salafist activities in mosques, schools, and gatherings.

The authors believe that this crackdown could drive more Salafists to join ISIS.

The study also mentioned the suppression of Uzbek militants. A Taliban commander stated that the Taliban eliminated 300 members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, including women, in Nangarhar and Kunar.

The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan poses a threat to Uzbekistan, a country seeking to persuade the Afghan Taliban to suppress and control Uzbek militants through expanded trade and political relations.

Despite the crackdown, ISIS remains a serious threat to the Taliban's rule.

Non-Pashtuns Presence Is Symbolic

According to this Pakistani think tank's study, despite the Taliban appointing some Tajik, Hazara, and Uzbek figures to government positions, their presence is largely symbolic. The power structures in non-Pashtun provinces like Bamiyan are controlled by Pashtun Taliban.

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