Verifying Amir Khan Muttaqi’s Claims
By: Ali Sajad Mawlaee
Recently, Al Jazeera published an article in which the foreign minister of the Taliban, Amir Khan Muttaqi, claimed that if the sanctions were lifted, the Taliban would be willing to collaborate with the world. However, these claims were more of a political bluff than the truth. Since the Taliban seized power on 15 August, they have been attempting to present a new image and personality. Several media outlets and individuals have cooperated with the Taliban in this endeavor, and the article published by Al Jazeera is a continuation of this effort. By stating that “the Taliban are ready to cooperate with the international community,” Muttaqi is attempting to gain political legitimacy for their regime. In this article, I am attempting to analyze Muttaqi’s claims using field data and the current situation in Afghanistan.
Muttaqi claims that the situation in Afghanistan is very promising in the one and a half years since the Islamic Emirate regained control. However, this is contradicted by the fact that more than one million girls are banned from attending school and university, women are excluded from all arenas of social, political, and economic life, and the UN report states that 97% of the population of Afghanistan will shortly be below the poverty line. Furthermore, the ‘World Happiness Report‘ institute announced in a new report that Afghanistan is the most miserable country in the world and has the lowest rank country in the world. These facts demonstrate that Muttaqi’s statement is a myth.
Muttaqi stated that the level of violence in Afghanistan had decreased significantly in the past 18 months; however, the rate of theft, robbery, murder, and kidnapping in the same period has remained the same. The Taliban have been responsible for insecurity, terror, and violence for the past 20 years, and their claims of national security are merely propaganda. The ISIS branch of Khorasan has been able to plan deadly operations against the Taliban, such as the killing of the head of the water supply in Herat and the Taliban governor of Balkh. Additionally, the National Resistance Front and Afghanistan Freedom Front are active in various provinces and have military movements, disproving the Taliban‘s claim that there is no internal opposition or resistance against them.
Muttaqi‘s third claim is that general amnesty is not a reality. This is due to the Taliban forces having recently arrested, tortured, imprisoned, and killed many former army officers and soldiers, including a father and son who were part of the army in the Republic era. Furthermore, reports of the Taliban torturing former security forces have been documented, as well as videos of the Taliban violating their general amnesty regulation. According to reports from UNAMA, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, the Taliban in Panjshir, Andarab, and other places have been accused of war crimes.
The findings of Hasht–e–Subh indicate that in March, the Taliban killed eight former soldiers and arrested 23 others. It should be noted that this figure does not take into account all cases, as many crimes go unreported.
Muttaqi‘s fourth claim, which states that there is a unified, independent, and accountable government, is fundamentally false. The current Taliban regime is mono–ethnic, mono–gender, corrupt, and autocratic, with its cabinet members all coming from the same tribe and no representation from other ethnic groups such as Hazara, Turkmen, or other groups in Afghanistan. The only diversity present is two Tajik and one Uzbek minister, which demonstrates the mono–ethnic nature of the regime. Furthermore, there are no female ministers in the Taliban cabinet, as women are not allowed to work, further highlighting the mono–gender aspect of the government. The Taliban have also claimed to have eradicated corruption, however, corruption has actually increased, particularly in court and other offices. Additionally, the Taliban regime is not accountable to anyone, and they do not take into consideration the needs of the citizens, leading to a high level of arbitrariness and lack of accountability. Recently, Hibatullah Akhundzada, the leader of the Taliban, has ordered the heads of human resources departments to cooperate with the Taliban group and help in speeding up their process, indicating that the Taliban intend to hire their fighters instead of experts and create a single–handed regime of religious leaders.
Despite the fact that Afghanistan is receiving $US 40 million in aid on a weekly basis, Muttaqi has asserted that the country no longer requires foreign assistance. If this aid were to be discontinued, the circumstances in Afghanistan would become even more dire. At present, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are providing the salaries of Afghan teachers and health workers.
Muttaqi‘s argument that there is both unity and diversity between minorities and the majority is also defamatory. Since the Taliban came to power, they have either intentionally or unintentionally sown the seeds of conflict and widened the gap between the ethnic groups of Afghanistan. Additionally, they have been known to forcefully extort money from other tribes or confiscate their lands.
Muttaqi stated that the Taliban are open to negotiations, but they do not accept any form of discussion as they act according to their own will. To date, they have refused to adhere to international standards of civil and human rights and have declined to construct a government that is inclusive of all.
Muttaqi has stated that the Taliban are willing to participate in the international process of peace and stability, however, they are a threat to regional and global security. Central Asian countries are concerned that insecurity may spread to their borders, and the Collective Security Treaty has issued multiple warnings about this. Furthermore, the Taliban have been involved in border disputes with neighboring countries more than 20 times. Recently, a Taliban force arrested and assaulted an Iranian border guard. Additionally, the Taliban have provided refuge to numerous terrorist groups within Afghanistan, such as Pakistan‘s Tehreek–e Taliban and China‘s Uyghurs.
Finally, Muttaqi asserted that they had implemented significant measures against drugs due to Hibatullah Akhundzada, the leader of this group, recently announcing a prohibition on planting and smuggling drugs. However, his argument was not valid as the Taliban have a complex relationship with drugs, with a large portion of their income being derived from drug cultivation and trafficking. According to recent reports, Afghanistan is still the largest producer of drugs in the world, which contradicts the notion that the Taliban are peacemakers.
Overall, Muttaqi‘s writing is in stark contrast to the thrilling circumstances in Afghanistan, thus his assertions are nothing more than myths.