The Suffocating Situation of Civil Society in Afghanistan

Civil society organizations have completely ceased their activities since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

To determine how popular a political system is or to what extent it is dictatorial and monopolistic, there are certain parameters, one of which is the presence and influence of civil society in a country. The relation of civil society to the tyranny and coercion of the rulers, according to the terms of logic is an inverse relation, not an exclusion. It means, the stronger the civil society of countries, the less oppression and tyranny of political systems, and vice versa.

Civil society in Afghanistan over the last twenty years has been a nascent but valuable experience that could grow over time and better reflect the aspirations of the people. In those years, despite shortcomings, some of the people’s demands and problems were well raised in the public sphere, incorrect laws were criticized to and the silent voices of society were made possible to be heard. The direct result of the activities of civil society, along with the mass media and the freedom of expression that was unparalleled throughout the region, was to prevent the dictatorship of the political structure that held government apparatus accountable under public pressure. The business-project approach of a number of exploitative figures to the activities of civil society provided the basis for criticism, but it was known that this was a side effect of the phenomenon, not an inherent feature.

Civil society as a whole, like any society trapped under the boots of police tyranny, is now at its worst in decades. The most important indicators for the dynamism of civic space are freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association, each of which is now declining and disappearing. Journalists are under more pressure and intimidation than ever before, experts are being arrested, interrogated, threatened and tortured as soon as they make critical comments, parties and organizations are not allowed to engage in any activities other than on screen meetings with ruling leaders, closed religious offices and ulema communities. It is disrupted and litigation for women, minorities and other oppressed classes is like playing with one’s own life. It is clear that the Taliban’s motive for darkening the country’s civil society is to consolidate the foundations of their authoritarian rule so that no one will be aware of or protest against the extrajudicial, arbitrary and uncivilized behavior of its fighters across the country. They have an ideological justification for doing so. They consider their leader  as the direct representative of Allah and the Prophet and his decisions and actions are deemed to be acceptable without any question and opposition to him and the system under his rule are considered against the Shari’a. According to their beliefs, any opposition that undermines their sovereignty is considered treason, and the traitors are obligated to kill. Continuation of such a situation intensifies the authoritarian nature of the system, facilitates the influence of the exploiting and corrupt flatterers, reduces the possibility of reform and deprives the society of its basic rights. In this situation, there is no place for human rights, no rule of law, no good governance, no provision of basic services, no maintenance of psychological security, and no other components necessary for a normal life in today’s world. With the closing the gates of civil societies, the gates of violence open and armed struggle becomes an inevitable option for citizens to achieve their fundamental rights.