Last week, after much anticipation, the Taliban announced a new government that does not include women or minorities, and a majority – 17 — of them are either on sanctions or terror lists. The list does not include anyone from another political party. It is yet another blatant move by the Taliban, breaking their promise of inclusivity and diversity.
In this provisional government of the Taliban, posts are given to long-time leaders of the group and among them, one man, Sirajuddin Haqqani, stands out in particular. Haqqani, the appointed new interior minister is a close ally of Al-Qaeda, is a man wanted by the FBI, with a $10 million dollar bounty on his head. Haqqani is also the leader of the notorious Haqqani network, founded by his father. The acting defense minister, Mullah Yakub, is the son of the Taliban’s founding member.
The Women’s Affairs Ministry did not make it to the list of the ministries of the Taliban, leading many to believe it will be terminated. Instead, the Ministry of the Propagation of Virtue and Vice made it to the list. This ministry existed during the Taliban regime in the 1990s, which was infamous for forcing people to follow the edicts of the Taliban, ensures that the strictest interpretation of Sharia is implemented on the people.
Since the takeover on August 15th, the situation remains fluid and people are fearful for their lives. The Taliban ordered women to stay at home until further notice and as students returned to universities, they found that their classes were segregated by gender. Women are not allowed to serve in higher levels in the government and will not be allowed to play the kind of sports that “exposes” their bodies. Music has been banned in public spaces, journalists are being arrested and beaten, and the group routinely engaged in surveillance activities as well as cut internet services in certain parts of Kabul.
As the situation evolves daily, it is clear that the prospects are looking bleak for the Afghan people, especially, for the youth and women. Their hard-won rights, freedoms, gains of the past 20 years are in danger, and their access to opportunities has been constrained. What comes next is uncertain, but what is certain for now is that life has become difficult.