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Taliban: Shift to Ideological Extremism

For the past six months the Taliban in Afghanistan has been attempting to reconcile with the demands of the international community on human rights, personal freedoms, girls education, media and related issues.

On inclusiveness of the government the Islamic Emirate has been less compromising. In March however there is a discernible shift in the approach towards rights and freedoms by the Islamic Emirate government in Kabul.

This is apparently after the three day ministerial meeting that was held in Kandahar in the middle of March (2022).

The meeting was chaired by the supreme leader of the Islamic Emirate, Mawlawi Hebatullah Akundzada and was attended by the Prime Minister, Deputy Ministers and other key ministers including the acting defence and the interior minister – Mullah Yaqoob and Sirajuddin Haqqani respectively. Inamullah Samangani spokesperson in Kabul said that the supreme leader of the Islamic Emirate instructed the relevant officials to recruit the forces of the Islamic Emirate within a structure of the security department. “Attracting national and foreign investment, appointing the Mujahideen (Islamic Emirate members) to government departments, preventing the drug business and reforming the administration, were discussed,” he said.

What has emerged however is also a series of dictats which underline rigorous enforcement of the fundamentalist ideology of the group denying freedoms to the public particularly women.

First amongst these dictat was a sudden reversal of the decision to allow senior girls above Class 6 to attend schools. The decision was so abrupt that girls were turned back from the classes they were attending in some schools leading to an outcry both internally and from the international community. Another related decision is to block women who were not accompanied by male partners to board flights for leaving the country. This restriction was placed on March 27th and some women were in fact offloaded from aircraft they had boarded.

Reuters reported on March 28, that Taliban has instructed all government employees to wear a beard and adhere to a dress code. The government employees were instructed not to shave beards wear local clothing with a head gear. Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice monitored the implementation of the dress code.

Afghan local media has been restricted from airing foreign TV channels’ news programs to include Voice of America (VOA), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and the German Deutsche Welle (DW)

IEA Government did not celebrate Nowruz officially but it will not prevent public celebration of the festival. Acting Government Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid says government doesn’t celebrate events not advised and preached by the teachings of Islam, adding if people celebrate the event government will not prevent them.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Emirate denied rumors about changes in the top leadership, in the cabinet or elsewhere. Some media reports claimed first Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar had replaced PM Mullah Hassan Akhund. Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied rumours that the group's Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund has been replaced by his deputy.

While Akhund is a senior Taliban leader he has not been active in international circles thus there was a rumour that Baradar who headed the talks in Doha and was the Deputy of the Taliban founder Omar may have taken the top slot. Now he has been has assigned the task to attract domestic and foreign investment for the country’s economic growth and prosperity.

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