By Shehla Rahim
Two years after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the militant group continues to assert its rule, citing Islamic law as the source of its legitimacy. In a recent interview, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid reaffirmed the group’s commitment to an indefinite rule based on Sharia, dismissing questions about restrictions on women’s rights and education. As Afghanistan grapples with the implications of Taliban rule, the international community faces the challenge of engaging with a regime that remains unyielding on key issues.
The Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan culminated in its takeover on August 15, 2021, following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces after two decades of conflict. According to Mujahid, the Taliban derives its legitimacy from Islamic law or Sharia, with no fixed term for its rule. This assertion underscores the group’s intention to remain in power indefinitely under the leadership of its supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, as long as its actions align with Sharia.
One of the most contentious aspects of Taliban rule has been the severe restrictions imposed on women and girls. These restrictions include a ban on female education beyond the sixth grade, effectively excluding Afghan women from classrooms, job opportunities, and public life. Mujahid’s recent statements indicate that the Taliban has no intention of revising these policies, despite international condemnation.
The Impact on Afghan Society
The implications of the Taliban’s open-ended rule extend beyond gender issues. The Afghan population has experienced significant challenges since the Taliban’s return to power. Tens of thousands of Afghans fled the country in the aftermath of the takeover, leading to a humanitarian crisis. Economic hardships have deepened as international aid to Afghanistan has dwindled. Despite these challenges, the Taliban has managed to maintain its grip on power and explore economic cooperation with regional countries.
The international community has expressed concerns over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. Aid agencies, rights groups, and the United Nations have condemned the Taliban’s rule and called for an end to violations and repression. However, the Taliban’s leadership appears unfazed by the prospect of international isolation, as it maintains official relations with several countries in the region, conducts business, and operates embassies.
Engaging with the Taliban presents a complex diplomatic challenge for the international community. While there is a need to address human rights violations and promote gender equality, the Taliban’s unyielding stance on these issues complicates diplomatic efforts. Achieving a balance between engagement and holding the Taliban accountable for its actions remains a critical task for the international community.
The Taliban’s assertion of open-ended rule in Afghanistan, grounded in Islamic law, raises significant questions about the country’s future. The continued restrictions on women’s rights and education, coupled with the deteriorating humanitarian situation, demand international attention and action. As Afghanistan grapples with the implications of Taliban rule, the international community must navigate the complex landscape of engagement, accountability, and humanitarian assistance to promote a more stable and inclusive future for the Afghan people.