Predictably, the Taliban easily gained control of an Afghan Province


Last Monday Taliban launched a gruesome and sudden, but not unpredictable attack, on the Afghan provincial capital of Kunduz. The Interior Ministry’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, stated that the insurgents had seized the main roundabout in the city and had made it to the prison where they freed more than 500 inmates, who flooded the streets of Kunduz.

Later in the day the Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, issued a statement congratulating fighters for successfully taking over Kunduz, and urged them to keep the residents safe: “All mujahedeen (Taliban fighters) after taking over military targets and finishing the military operation should put their attention on keeping the lives, wealth and dignity of common people safe. Most of the times some opportunists and burglars misuse such opportunities to harm civilians and their wealth. Mujahedeen should be conscious and shouldn’t allow anyone to harm the lives and wealth of civilians and the public wealth.”

However, the Taliban did the exact opposite. Amnesty International reported mass murders, gang rapes and house-to-house searches by Taliban death squads according to the harrowing civilian testimonies emerging from Kunduz, as Afghan troops backed by US air strikes regained the control of key areas of the city. While losing control of Kunduz was a big jolt to the new Afghan government, it was even worse for the people of Kunduz who had run out of food supplies and water, being either afraid of leaving home or were prevented from leaving by the Taliban.

Allegedly the Taliban were using a “hit-list” with the names and photos of activists, journalists and civil servants based in Kunduz, to track down their targets. They also used young boys to conduct house-to-house searches to locate and abduct their targets. A woman’s rights activist who worked with the victims of domestic violence at the local women’s shelter told Amnesty International that she and other women had fled the city on foot, over rough terrain, to avoid the Taliban’s roadblocks on exit routes of the city. She claimed that a member of the Taliban had called her inquiring about the whereabouts of the women who lived in the shelter and when she had informed him that all the shelter had been evacuated and the women had escaped, he became very angry. Taliban had used their hit list to track down the women’s shelter staff and their families and had gang raped and killed several midwives for providing reproductive health services to women in the city. They also raped female relatives and killed family members of many local police commanders and soldiers and looted their belongings.

The recent growing power of the Taliban, and ISIS, in Afghanistan is not a myth to be unravelled. The constant meddling of neighbouring countries and the strategic importance of Afghanistan in international politics makes it vulnerable. The importance of Pakistan’s role should not be overlooked in this matter, because if Afghanistan is cleansed of the Taliban, given the good relations between Afghanistan and India, Pakistan will be sandwiched between two hostile countries.

Furthermore, Taliban are publicly grooming the youth, including young girls, in their madrassas (religious schools). The Afghan government is more concerned about whether or not the religious schools are registered. However, official registration makes little difference in terms of the curriculum.   According to the Ministry of Education, there are 1,300 unregistered, and 1,100 state-run madrassas operating in the country. Kunduz is one of the provinces with the most unregistered madrassas run by fundamentalists and the Taliban. One of the most controversial of all these is Ashraf-ul Madares, an all girls school with 6000 full time students who attend the school to solely study the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Mohammad. The students are radicalized by their male fundamentalist teachers who teach them from behind a wooden box, and are taught to shamelessly chastise other women and students over their un-Islamic dress code and call them “infidels” for not praying.

The Kunduz incident is another failure of the Afghan government, and devastatingly not unpredictable for Afghans. This was an incident that was bound to happen and can happen in many other Afghan provinces where Taliban or the Taliban-mentality is deeply rooted in the society. While the city is under the control of the government at the moment, sporadic clashes are still taking place in some areas while the Taliban intend to expand their fight from Kunduz to other provinces.


(Photo Credit: AFP / Getty / Amnesty International)