On August 15, 2021, the Afghan government fell and many political figures, party leaders, and ethnic influencers departed Afghanistan. Consequently, only a few politicians from the previous period remain in Kabul, including Abdullah Abdullah, Hamid Karzai, Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Sayed Ishaq Gailani. Recently, Gailani gave an interview with Ariana News in which he discussed the political, economic, and social situation within the country.
At the start of the interview, Gailani revealed that he had sponsored many Taliban prisoners during the republic and released them without even knowing them. He expressed his opposition to the US presence in Afghanistan and to Ashraf Ghani‘s method of governing. He had hoped that the situation would improve upon his departure from Afghanistan, but after 17 months of Taliban rule, he is disappointed with the current state of affairs. He was adamant that the Taliban has not yet done anything meaningful or practical to promote the progress and development of Afghanistan.
Gailani characterized the social situation in Afghanistan as miserable, expressing dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. He emphasized that Afghanistan is not limited to Kabul, and that the provinces, districts, and villages must be taken into account. “Constructing intersections and beautifying the city will not feed the poor; it is essential to generate employment and work opportunities,” he declared.
He stated that the government must bring peace and security to the citizens in order to prevent the Taliban from causing people to not be able to sleep at night due to unemployment, lack of time, and insecurity. Furthermore, many are concerned about the future of their children, and the closure of schools and universities will have a detrimental effect on Afghanistan. Gailani argued that the closure of schools is not a hijab issue, as he has never seen a student without a hijab. He then quoted a sentence from Abdul Kalam, the former president of India, who declared, “Do not declare a holiday on my death. Instead, work an extra day”, as closing schools for one day will cause irreparable damage to the future of India. Gailani continued by saying that now imagine schools have been closed for girls for 17 months, and he believes this loss is irreparable, so he hopes schools to resume in March. Additionally, he mentioned that many young and educated cadres left Afghanistan in the last 17 months and went to their homeland, and this massive migration had three main reasons.
1- The Taliban‘s purported general amnesty was deceptive. He claims that the Taliban declared a general amnesty, yet military personnel and officers are still being slain, and there is no evidence of their murderers being apprehended.
2- Many Afghans who sought educational opportunities have left the country in order to secure a brighter future for themselves and their offspring, due to the closure of universities and schools.
3- Many have departed Afghanistan due to the lack of suitable employment opportunities.
Gailani maintains that the removal of young and educated personnel from Afghanistan will have detrimental effects.
Gailani expressed his dissatisfaction with the current political situation, stating that he had not been able to meet with any Taliban officials for the past six months. When he requested a meeting, they refused, implying that they were too busy. He further stated that he had requested a meeting with the cabinet ministers of the Taliban group multiple times, but they had rejected it. He believed that, for better administration and governance, the Taliban should consult with politicians and seek advice from those who are knowledgeable in this field.
Gailani stated that the Taliban have not created a conducive environment for intra–Afghan dialogue. Numerous jihadi leaders and political figures remain outside of the country due to their uncertainty regarding their safety in Afghanistan. Some have returned, but have since departed with feelings of disappointment.
Relations with the World
Gailani stressed that Afghanistan has no connections with the outside world and that the Taliban should interact with the region and the world and alter the current state of affairs. The Taliban, however, did not demonstrate any enthusiasm for mending foreign relations and connecting with foreign entities. According to him, the Taliban have not adopted diplomatic language and, in exchange for foreign aid, they should heed their demands. For instance, the salaries of teachers are funded by the international community, and the Taliban should comply with the request of the international community to resume education for girls. On the other hand, Gailani desires the Taliban to provide a chance for the presence and investment of foreigners in Afghanistan.
Relations with Pakistan
Gailani believes that Afghanistan and Pakistan share a common language, border, and religion, and that Pakistan hosts several million Afghan immigrants, necessitating improved relations between the two countries. He also believes that it is a weakness of the Taliban that Pakistan speaks on behalf of Afghanistan on the international stage, and that no nation should represent Afghanistan in this way. Despite this, Gailani is known for having close relations with Pakistan and is renowned as one of its supporters. In this interview, he also stated that the people of Pakistan are good and honorable, and should be treated differently from the government of the country.
Gailani conveyed that ISIS is pervasive throughout Afghanistan and has been known to launch assaults against the Taliban. He implored the people of Afghanistan to assist the Taliban in their struggle against ISIS. Additionally, he cautioned the Taliban about the presence of foreign combatants, which is one of the factors contributing to the Taliban‘s lack of recognition by the international community.
Gailani‘s harsh tone indicates that the Taliban are not amicable towards those who have previously been guarantors of the group‘s fighters. Rather, they are attempting to eradicate or disregard these individuals. His interview provides a thorough insight into the Taliban‘s rigidity and oppression in Afghanistan. During the interview, Gailani stated that he is apprehensive of the Taliban, who could potentially threaten him for giving the interview. This demonstrates that, despite their claims of accepting criticism, the Taliban do not heed to their adversaries.
Gailani‘s explicit statement highlighted several issues. Firstly, he and his followers are fed up with the Taliban, as the Gilani family ideologically opposes the Taliban‘s Sufism. During the interview, Gailani expressed his discontent with the Taliban‘s inappropriate behavior towards citizens. Secondly, Gailani and other elders of the Tariqat had anticipated that people would rally behind them in opposition to the Taliban, yet the arrival of the Taliban has caused chaos in Afghanistan. Thirdly, Gailani‘s economic interests are at risk, as the Taliban declared the settlement of “Sayed Ishaq Gailani“ in Nangarhar province to be illegal and seized 5,640 acres of land in the area. Finally, Gailani‘s criticisms are pertinent to the current situation, as Sirajuddin Haqqani and Mohammad Yaqoob had previously expressed their dissatisfaction with the circumstances.