Insurgents deny claims by activists, maintaining such reports are propaganda against them
Civil society activists in the Afghan province of Takhar have alleged that the Taliban have started imposing harsh and regressive new laws and regulations in districts they have captured from the government.
According to a report published by Ariana News—an Afghan news broadcaster—activists have alleged that the Taliban have issued orders for all men to grow out their beards; banned women from leaving their homes without male guardians; and announced dowry regulations for women wishing to get married. The claims evoke fears of a return to the ultra-conservative Afghanistan of the 1990s, when the Taliban ruled over the country with an iron fist, stoning people to death for even minor offenses and imposed harsh laws on women in violation of their human rights.
“They urged women in a statement to not leave without a relative … also urged men to have beards,” Ariana News quoted Merajuddin Sharifi, a civil society activist in Takhar, as saying. He claimed the Taliban have also started to “insist on trials without evidence.”
In addition to the alleged rights violations, members of the Takhar provincial council told Ariana News that food prices had surged in the areas that have fallen to the Taliban. “People are facing problems there; services are nonexistent, clinics, and schools are closed,” Mohammad Azam Afzali, a member of the Takhar provincial council, told the broadcaster.
Ariana News also cited Abdullah Qarluq, governor of Takhar, as claiming that the Taliban had destroyed several government buildings.
Activists in the province have urged the government in Kabul to launch clearance operations to oust the group from their area, adding that this situation cannot be allowed to continue.
The Taliban, according to Ariana News, have rejected the claims, branding them “propaganda” against the group.
The Ariana News report comes in the backdrop of multiple reports of the Taliban attacking and taking control of districts in various provinces of Afghanistan over the past few weeks. The insurgents have ramped up their offensive following the U.S. declaring that it would completely withdraw from the war-torn state by September 11.
In a speech to Parliament this week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan regretted that the leverage Pakistan had over the Taliban had been severely reduced by the U.S. announcement, adding that the insurgents believed they had “defeated” Washington and driven it out of their country. He also stressed that the only viable solution to the crisis was a negotiated settlement, and reiterated that Pakistan would accept any government that had been chosen by the people of Afghanistan.