By Muhsin Ibrahim
The fate of women is on top of the concerns UN, US, EU, among others, expressed since the Taliban takeover of power in Afghanistan. However, several observers believe today’s Taliban is different from the 1996-2001 era, which ruled the country with an iron fist.
Reports indicate that the Taliban banned music, curtailed female education, compelled men to keep beards during their previous regime. However, the group’s current leadership had promised to let women go up to the university.
They also promised “amnesty” to all Afghans, including security personnel who worked for the toppled government. In addition, they encouraged journalists to work impartially and urged women to join their government. Nevertheless, working women, particularly journalists, lawyers and human rights activists, expressed fears.
In what many consider a departure from the “dark days” of the Taliban, a female anchor interviewed a Taliban senior member, Abdul Haq Hammad. An Afghan news organisation, TOLO, also tweeted photos of their female staff out in Kabul.
Despite the Taliban promises and other “signs” of changes, people who worked for the US and other foreign countries during the 20-year long occupation are still fleeing the country. At the same time, as Kamal Haidar of Al Jazeera English reported, many others are happy with the Taliban’s return and are, thus, going back to Afghanistan.
The Taliban return to power in Afghanistan twenty years after the US-led coalition ousted them following the 9/11 attacks. Then, the US accused Osama Bin Laden of being behind the attacks and, thus, demanded the Taliban government to hand him over, which they refused.