HERAT -- The people of Herat are reeling from the ramifications of the Taliban's seizure of the Islam Qala border crossing and the Torghundi port, with internet and communications in the region effectively cut off.
The Taliban blew up a telecommunications office and destroyed all of its equipment after they seized the crossing on July 9 in Kohsan district, Herat province, say local officials.
The Herat telecommunications industry incurred some $1 million worth of damage with the destruction of the fibre optic network in Islam Qala, according to the provincial Telecommunications and Information Technology (IT) Department.
The Taliban also disabled the fibre optic network in Torghundi port, the border between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, Ashoqullah Alizai, director of the department, said July 25.
The internet, which was provided by way of the fibre optic network from Iran and Turkmenistan to Herat province, is 90 to 100% disconnected, he added.
"As many as 11 private operators used to provide internet to people across Herat ... as a result of the internet blackout, many government and private sector offices are experiencing an interruption in services," Alizai said.
The disruption in internet services has cost those living in the province.
"The Taliban have caused great damage to our company and customers," said Abdul Nasir Siddiqi, director of the Foshanj telecom company in Herat, adding that companies had to refund their consumers because of the internet outage.
Hundreds of workers have lost their jobs because of internet disruption, he said.
"The fibre optic network provides public services, and its destruction by the Taliban is indeed a major crime."
Disrupting public's lives
Taliban representatives in Qatar claim they want to achieve peace even as their subordinates disrupt civilians' lives in Afghanistan, said Muhammad Sardar Bahaduri, a member of the Herat provincial council.
"I am sure the Taliban leaders are aware of the destruction of infrastructure and their subordinates' depriving the public of the internet, but they don't care," he said.
During the past 40 years, no group has destroyed Afghanistan's public infrastructure as much as the Taliban, said Bahaduri.
"The destruction of infrastructure means pushing Afghanistan backwards from the brightness toward the dark ages," he added.
The Taliban have proven that they oppose Afghanistan's progress in utilising modern technology, said Abdul Rahim Jami, a resident of Herat city.
Ordinary citizens, government offices, and private sector companies use the internet, and the Taliban have no right to interrupt public services, he said.
The public is shocked at the level of crimes committed by the Taliban as they continue to target and destroy public infrastructure projects, he added.
Afghan citizens' communication with their families and friends inside and outside the country has been severely affected by the disruption in internet connection, said Suhrab Khatebi, another Herat city resident.
"In the 21st century, communications and the internet are basic needs, but the Taliban ruthlessly target and blow up facilities to cut off public communication."
Public services such as the issuance of electronic identification cards (e-tazkira) and passports have been suspended, creating major challenges for members of the public, said Khatebi.
While the Taliban leadership are making trips to various countries, portraying themselves as good diplomats and intellectuals, their militants continue to carry out terrorist activities and kill innocent civilians, civil society activists and analysts say.
Taliban leaders are lying to the world as they attempt to demonstrate a positive image of the group, said Faiz Mohammad Danish, a military analyst in Herat city.
Meanwhile, inside the country, they massacre dozens of innocent Afghans every day, he said.
The Taliban are not fighting to promote Islam but to gain more power and more wealth, he said.
In Afghanistan, Taliban combatants are doing exactly the opposite of what their leaders claim in Qatar, said Sayed Ashraf Sadaat, a Herat-based civil society activist.
It is impossible for the Taliban fighters to carry out this much brutality and kill so many innocent civilians without their leaders' blessing, he said.
The Taliban ideology is to return Afghanistan to the dark ages and to oppress civilians, Sadaat said.