By Sankar Ray
The Talban are on the horns of a serious ideological dilemma. Their sympathisers from the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Niazi to the Russian President Vladimir Putin and from the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud look forward to ”stability” in Afghanistan under the new Islamic emirate , but no country even Pakistan has accorded diplomatic recognition. The United Nations terms for recognition are so strict that Taliban are reconciled to their fate of no recognition for long.
Every country, including India, is keen on economic engagement with Afghanistan but on a mandatory condition which is clearly expressed by 82-year-old principal of Darul Uloom Deoband, the Islamic school in Deoband, Uttar Pradesh in India, Maulana Syed Arshad Madani who considers the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan a positive development for liberation from ‘foreign occupation’ by an Islamic movement. The Taliban shouldn’t ‘differentiate between the majority and the minority and ‘protect the life, property, and honour of everyone. The Taliban are followers of Deobandi Islam.
Significantly, the National Security Adviser to Pak premier Moeed Yousaf stated while addressing a two-day consultative workshop on security challenges post-US and NATO forces withdrawal from Afghanistan at the National Institute of Maritime Affairs in Islamabad that a peaceful Afghanistan has to emerge in the interest of not only Pakistan but the entire world as well. “The same will help us enhance our regional connectivity with landlocked Central Asian states,” Islamabad would be supportive to the concerns and legitimate demands of the international community for an inclusive government in Kabul ensuring protection of rights of all and no support to international terrorist groups, he added.
But the rank and file of new hukmat are inebriated with the medieval terroristic tradition. Only the other day, four bodies of alleged kidnappers were hung in a public square in the western Afghan city of Herat, alleges the erstwhile governor as “a lesson” to other would-be kidnappers. A Taliban official warned that public executions and amputations would resume. This has alarmed the neighbouring countries that have extended an olive branch to the new regime in Kabul. The top brass made it clear that they would not welcome a democratic order but one that would adhere to Shariat diktats.
One of the founders of the Taliban and the chief enforcer of its strict rule of Afghanistan during the 1990s Mullah Nooruddin Turabi has also confirmed in an interview to The Associated Press that executions and amputations of hands will be continued, “Everyone criticised us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and their punishments. No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam and we will make our laws on the Quran.”
Defying the bloody reality of Kabul after 15 August, Pakistan has been desperately trying to mould its friendly emirate. Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in an interview with AP on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly said, “If they live up to those expectations, they would make it easier for themselves, they will get acceptability, which is required for recognition. He looks up to Taliban 2.0 to be realistic: in sync with the international community an innovative way of engaging with them. The way that they were being dealt with has not worked.”
Pakistan has a genuine interest for a peaceful, stable Afghanistan, allowing no space for terrorist elements in strengthening their foothold and so endorses Taliban resolve that the Afghan soil must not be under any foreign power. Pakistan has a long border with Afghanistan with which it doesn’t want a conflicting relationship for preventing terrorism which means the Pakistani Taliban, an irritant for Islamabad.
Islamabad is not alone in cashing in on the financial crisis that the new Kabul rulers confront. China has promised substantial investments in Afghanistan, apart from a pledge to send humanitarian aid Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that China is Taliban’s closest partner. Competing with China, Russia is very keen on economic and commercial relationships with Afghanistan under the new Islamic Emirate. Putin has ticked off a softened stand towards the Taliban, praising the seizure of power “without bloodshed”. So Moscow is ready for welcoming a Taliban delegation. But alike others, Russia is in no hurry to officially recognize Taliban 2.0. The Russian President stated in a diplomatic tone “As for recognition, we have to align our positions and build a dialogue”.
The road ahead for the Taliban 2.0 is bumpy. To hang on to a democratic order is unacceptable to Shariat-adhering ultra-Islamists. A peaceful milieu whose fundamental requirement is equal opportunity to all irrespective of religious affiliation and gender variations is not attuned to Shariat dictatorship.
The immediate task before the new Emirate is to not only constitute the Rahbar Shura or the leadership council to which the 33-member ministry is to be answerable. Rahbar is a Persian word meaning guide, and shura is an Arabic word for council. In Iran’s post-revolutionary political leadership, the Shia-majority country’s supreme leader was also called Rahbar.
Interestingly although the Taliban are a Sunni Hanafi group, a Pashtun-dominated movement, they are fundamentally Deobandis. The austere form of Sunni Islam, followed by the Talibn is rooted in the Islamic seminary in Deoband, a town in India’s Uttar Pradesh. (IPA Service)