Human Rights

Taliban face increasing public anger, pressure

By Sulaiman

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Afghan Local Police march in Nad-e-Ali District, Helmand Province, April 8. Helmand is one of the last strongholds of the increasingly unpopular Taliban. [Noor Mohammad/AFP]

KABUL -- Public anger towards the Taliban is mounting as the Taliban's long list of crimes against civilians and destruction of Afghanistan's infrastructure continues to grow, observers told Salaam Times.

"The Taliban's foundation and strategy are built upon spreading terror, murdering humans and destructing Afghanistan," said Khalid Pashtoon, a member of parliament from Kandahar Province.

"As a result of the Taliban's excessive and heinous crimes, they do not have the support of even 2% of the people of Kandahar, a place that once was their main base," he told Salaam Times.

Not only are the Taliban losing their members, but public pressure and anger increase with each passing day, he said.

The people say 'no' to Taliban

The Taliban's actions -- such as their repeated targeting of hospitals, health clinics and schools in terrorist attacks -- violates Sharia law, the laws of the land and Afghan traditions, Pashtoon said.

"Such actions are no longer tolerable or acceptable for any Afghan individual," he said. "People [...] have become united against the Taliban."

Over the past few years, the majority of Kandahar districts have achieved stability and security through the efforts of residents, Pashtoon said.

"People said 'no' to Taliban and to extremism, and they have now focused their efforts on development, reconstruction and education," he said.

The same is true for Nangarhar Province, according to Samiullah, a 32-year-old human rights activist from Shinwar District in Nangarhar.

"Public disgust and hatred towards the Taliban have reached a level that people in Kama District [...] have decided to impose heavy fines on, and demolish the houses of, those who co-operate with the Taliban," he told Salaam Times.

Taliban shows no mercy

The majority of Taliban attacks are against Afghan civilians, said Abdul Baqi Samandar, a Kabul-based human rights activist.

"From the time they ruled over Afghanistan all the way until now, the Taliban have never shown any mercy towards women, men, children or old people in Afghanistan," he told Salaam Times.

"In fact, innocent Afghan women, children and civilians have been the main victims of the Taliban's terrorist activities," he said.

The Taliban's actions trample all human rights and every humane and Islamic principle, said Mohammad Saber, a student of Sharia law at Dawat University in Kabul.

"The lynching of a Kabul Polytechnic University student in Maidan Wardak Province [last December], the murder of a number of students at the American University of Afghanistan [in August], arson at educational institutions and killing of religious scholars are just a few of the Taliban's most infamous crimes," he told Salaam Times.

Standing united against Taliban

The Taliban must rely on crime to fund their activities, as the public refuses to support them, said Habiba Danish, a member of parliament from Takhar Province.

"The Taliban continue to survive on collection of religious tax, extortion, banditry on highways and trade of illicit drugs," she told Salaam Times. "This is the money that enables them to continue their fight, which turns Afghan women and children into widows and orphans."

In order to end Taliban oppression and barbarism, she said, all ethnic and sectarian groups across Afghanistan have to stand united against the Taliban.

"The Taliban have been committing crimes in Afghanistan and murdering Afghans for more than 20 years," said Abdulqader Sekandari, a law and political science professor at a Kabul university and a native of Balkh Province.

He recalled various Taliban attacks in Balkh and "acts of genocide" in Bamiyan and Daikundi provinces.

"Moreover, they carried out a scorched earth policy in the north, where they burnt down all the fruit trees," he told Salaam Times. "Ever since then, the Taliban have been busy at work with their explosive and suicide attacks, hindering all aspects of development."

Focusing on development

"The Taliban have completely lost their place among Paktia's intellectuals and scholars, and it is this very reason for which the Taliban torch down schools," said Najib Azad, a civil society activist from Paktia Province.

"They spare no efforts to keep Afghans in darkness and ignorance in areas under their control, so that they can easily recruit people, relying on their illiteracy and lack of knowledge," he told Salaam Times.

"The government, however, can prevent such Taliban plans through its training and development programmes," he said.

Residents of insecure provinces have pledged to prevent Taliban activities in the regions through public unity and integrity, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said at a cabinet meeting in March.

At the same time, he added, the government pledged to pay more attention to development, progress and reconstruction of insecure provinces.

"The president has ordered the ministries of rural development, urban development, public works and agriculture to pay special attention to the development and progress of 10 Afghan provinces that lack development and suffer from deprivation," Shah Hossein Mortazavi, a Ghani spokesman, told Salaam Times.

"Moreover, he tasked these ministries to examine and review problems and requirements of these 10 provinces and submit the results to him," said Mortazavi, adding that one of the provinces in question is Paktika.

Programmes that the government has planned for Paktika Province include construction of dams for electricity generation as well as for irrigation of farmland, generation of solar power, paving of roads and streets, and more attention to schools, he added.

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