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People Betrayed

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As many as 257 media outfits have closed down in Afghanistan ever since the Taliban took over. This is due to financial issues and the restrictions imposed. Now, the Taliban have declared that no woman may act in movies. This follows on women being dismissed from government jobs, denied freedom of movement, made to wear burqas, forced to marry Taliban fighters irrespective of their age, etc. Extraordinarily, the Taliban are being portrayed as ‘moderates’ because there is an even worse lot in the waiting.

While many nations can afford to look at these developments from afar, Afghanistan’s neighbourhood is naturally going to be directly impacted by this ballooning fundamentalism. The Pakistan Government, very foolishly, jumped into the Taliban camp in the bid to take credit for helping ‘defeat’ the US and its allies. This was to curry favour with the Pakistani fundamentalists. The problem is that there is no compromise with such elements – they take and they take but never give. As a result, civil society in Pakistan is greatly perturbed at the developments and, according to a report, PM Imran Khan’s government has received the thumbs down from as much as 87 percent of the populace.

The seeming capitulation by the world’s powers before the Taliban has encouraged radicals in other parts as well, including India. As usual, owing to the double standards they apply, the so-called liberals and progressive elements are loath to express outrage against such blatant human rights violations. In fact, there have actually been attempts to justify this fundamentalism as ‘acceptable’ to the Afghan people and part of traditional customs. Some even argue, without any evidence, that it is the beginning of a process similar to that in Iran, where an embattled regime is making tiny concessions to the modern way of life. This attitude is just the usual cowardice of five-star activism, which basically seeks out soft targets that are very unlikely to retaliate in Taliban or ISIS fashion.

Much of this stems from the belief that the US has lost the will to pursue democratisation in other lands. That may be the case, but it is only a matter of time before terrorism reaches its shores again. It is important, therefore, that the US treats terrorist regimes for what they are. Now that much of the Taliban leadership is overground, a couple of targeted hits at their gatherings would help change minds in the region. The message should be clear – the war against human rights violators continues.