Development of the conference, commitment to form an “inclusive government”, door-to-door to persuade people to return to their jobs … After returning to power, the Afghan Taliban are trying to create a moderate posture “unlike the Taliban of 20 years ago”, but the possibility of a secular Islamic state under the Taliban has always been a concern for many Afghans and one of the concerns.
A security alert posted on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Afghanistan over the weekend (21st) is of particular concern: “In order to effectively protect their own security during this extraordinary period, please observe more strictly With Chinese citizens in Afghanistan, pay special attention to dressing in public, catering and so on.” ”
Three days ago, Taliban spokesman Wasidura Hashemi made it clear in an interview that Afghanistan would not become a democracy and that the Taliban would rule by law based on Islam.
Middle East scholars 22 in an interview with the Global Times, said that ethnic and economic factors, leading to internal and external forces in Afghanistan, so that the country is far from transition to modern society, in such a situation, the Afghan Taliban to take some moderate measures may be only temporary, and it is not realistic to expect Afghanistan to become secular. For the current Taliban regime in Afghanistan, achieving reconciliation, development and international recognition is the most urgent goal.
There are fewer women on the street and the price of burqas has gone up
Salman Raha, an Afghan doing business in Yiwu, China, kept an eye on what was happening in his home country, and two days later he learned that his friends had begun to remove non-Islamic music from their phones, and that although the Afghan Taliban had continued to release mild messages after entering Kabul, some Afghans were clearly not appeased. Salman Raha said.
Students of the Afghan National Conservatory of Music rehearse at the school in 2018.
“There has been a change in television programmes, the content of the past is not the same as what it is now, and now if the content is not within the framework of Sharia law, the Taliban will not broadcast it.” Asked about the changes in local life in Afghanistan, Salman Raha told the Global Times: “Everyone used to listen to music, but now it’s not the same, you can’t listen to non-Islamic music, and if pictures of other stars are on your phone they might punish you.” ”
These two days, CCTV’s Afghanistan correspondent Karim Fayyad, describing the changes in Kabul, said that there are now far fewer women on the streets, “out of the basic dress.”
Yu Minghui, a Chinese businessman engaged in foreign trade in Afghanistan, also told the Global Times on the 22nd about the same observation. Before the Taliban returned to Kabul, he said, women wore more of a “convention” and “there was absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a burqa, but the exposure of wearing it could provoke some criticism, or some unusual vision, and older women in general consciously chose more conservative outfits.” ”
Women on the streets before the Taliban stormed Kabul.
Foreign media reported that after the Taliban announced the implementation of Sharia law in Afghanistan, local women rushed to buy masked robes “buka” (the clothes that wrap women from head to toe, including eyes), and some residents said that last year’s “buka” price of 200 Afghani (about 15 yuan), recently rose to more than 2,000 Afghani, the price of burqa soared more than 10 times.
Positive changes are also available. 17, the head of Afghanistan’s Dawn News announced that female anchors had been reinstated in news broadcasts. The station then released a video of the female host, Agand, interviewing Taliban member Hemad, which showed the host not covering his face with a veil.
Pan Guang, director of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences’ SCO Research Center and a senior adviser to the China Middle East Society, told the Global Times that it should be acknowledged that the Taliban have indeed kept pace with the times over the years, at least compared with more than 20 years ago, when female presenters interviewed Taliban members, which would have been unthinkable 20 years ago.
Afghanistan’s 20-year secularization process may seem to be being interrupted, but in fact, the secularization of Afghanistan has been in a “dual” situation between urban and rural areas.
Professor Liu Zhongmin of the Middle East Institute at Shanghai Overseas Chinese University explained to The Global Times that in large cities under the U.S.-led Afghan government, Afghan youth are being modernized, especially women’s participation in work, the right to education and social status, while in taliban-controlled rural areas it is completely different and extremist ideas have deep-rooted soil.
“In fact, some of the major sects of Islam are relatively open and some are relatively conservative, ” Liu said. For example, the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia is conservative, and Muslims in some Central Asian countries are not taboo about smoking or drinking. ”
“Before the radicalization, religious life in Afghanistan was more similar to that of the Central Asian countries, and the influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 was in fact a serious radicalization and conservative regression.”
Liu further pointed out that the Taliban’s previous treatment of women and some of the penalties were in fact largely due to the practices of some extreme factions that Islam had produced in the past, “and it cannot be said that these practices are inherent in Islam”.
What is the public opinion in Afghanistan?
So is it possible that the Taliban will gradually push Afghanistan towards secularization in 20 years’ time?
“The secularization of the Islamic State is essentially a separation of religion and politics, science and education, and the main thing is that religion no longer interferes in politics and withdraws from public life.” Liu Zhongmin told the Global Times that Turkey has done just that, “Turkey has set up a religious affairs bureau, which manages religious affairs and religious life, but the religious affairs bureau is part of a secular government.” ”
“But it’s extremely difficult for Afghanistan because it’s a combination of politics and religion in its philosophy.” Liu Zhongmin said the Afghan Taliban call their country “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”, a name that has a clear religious orientation. ”
“In Islamic tradition, the Emirate (also translated as the Emir) is the local leader of the Islamic caliphate,” the name implies, referring to its regime as part of a unified ‘caliphate’. It is clear that it cannot be a secular state. ”
Liu also mentioned that the Taliban’s statement a few days ago that they “respect women’s rights within the framework of Islamic law” was “intriguing”, meaning that the source of women’s rights still came from Shariah law, which religious scholars determine women’s rights according to Shariah law.
The expected moderation is likely to be the Taliban’s relatively open understanding of Sharia law, but not the legitimacy of overturning it.
“We must not forget that the Taliban’s religious views are extremely orthodox, and that will not change.” Pan Guang believes that some of the measures taken by the Afghan Taliban at the moment are only temporary, what will happen next remains to be seen.
Some Taliban news about the regime’s structure also confirms that the expectation of “secularization” does not seem realistic. The blueprint for the power structure outlined by Taliban spokesman Wasidura Hashemi is similar to that outlined by the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when supreme ruler Omar was behind the scenes and left day-to-day affairs under a committee, the Guardian reported Thursday.
The day before, Hashemi said the Taliban’s supreme leader, Shibatullah Akhundzada, would play a presidential-like role, taking full control of the affairs of the commission.
“The Taliban’s governance structure is basically ‘Amir’ on top, there are a few deputies below, and then there is a ‘Shura Council’ consultation mechanism below.” Liu Zhongmin told the Global Times that this is a historical mechanism for combining Islamic ideology with Pashtun tribal structures, under which religion and politics are integrated.
So will a backlash be seen in big cities such as Kabul, in Afghanistan, to return to a more conservative religious society than before?
Zhang Jiadong, a professor at Fudan University’s Center for American Studies and director of the Center for South Asian Studies, told the Global Times that Afghanistan is in a transition from tradition to modernity, with most of its residents still living in “traditional times” and a few big-city residents moving into modern society.
The whole of Afghanistan can be seen in the country’s modernity, Afghanistan is such a country in the conflict between traditional and modern contradictions, “the Taliban easily get the support of the Afghan people, because the mainstream of the population is traditional, they are more comfortable with dealing with the Taliban.” ”
“But this public support may not be what academia and the international community expect, because we believe that all countries should make the transition from tradition to modernity.”
“There are several indicators of the transition from tradition to modernity, first of all, that national identity is higher than ethnic identity, which is not available in Afghanistan, so the value of talking about ‘people supporting who doesn’t support who’ is not high in Afghanistan.”
Zhang Jiadong believes that in Afghanistan, it is not possible to expect the modernists, who represent the direction of human society, to establish an efficient regime.
And the probability of expecting a group of Taliban to suddenly recognize Afghanistan’s problems and direction is not high. “Why?” If you look at the origins and educational backgrounds of the Taliban leaders, they did not accept the advanced culture of the world, as many of the intellectual elites of the backward countries did, and in turn reformed their own countries.
Most of the Taliban’s leaders read books in the countryside and used them to gain religious recognition, not modern theories. So the Taliban can do something strategically, but it is almost impossible to change from the roots, with no popular base and no ideological roots. ”
The Taliban’s triple test
Afghanistan’s Hama News Agency reported on the 21st, senior Taliban member Ahmadoula Wasik said the same day, the Taliban have no plans to form an interim government or transitional government, will directly form an inclusive government acceptable to all Afghan parties.
Reuters quoted a Taliban official as saying on the 21st that the new framework for afghan governance will not be the kind of democracy defined by the West, but “it will protect the rights of everyone.” “Taliban legal, religious and foreign policy experts intend to propose a new governance framework in the coming weeks,” the official said.
Pan Guang believes that the Afghan Taliban most urgently need to solve three things, “one is reconciliation, two is development, three is international recognition.” “Protecting people’s livelihood is the biggest test facing the Taliban at present, ” Pan said simply: “The people have no food to rebel against.” ”
International recognition is also a serious test of the future, “when the Taliban first came to power, only Pakistan officially recognized, so how many countries will recognize this time?” The key is to see how well the Taliban do and whether they can form an inclusive government. ”
Liu Zhongmin noted the news that “the Afghan Taliban have no plans to form an interim government or a transitional government”, which, in his view, meant that after the rapid occupation of Kabul, the Taliban’s dominance had become clearer and would be largely unencone by other domestic political forces, “who I would absorb, who would lead me”, and that he would reflect his will more on the issue of forming an “inclusive government”.
Pan Guang believes that the domestic forces do not accept the Taliban, is not clear, “such as the first vice president of Ghani’s government has expressed resistance, hazaras may also stand out, Tajiks are not very stable, even if there are contradictions within the Pashtuns, so the next step is to carefully observe the movement of the various forces in Afghanistan, these forces will have a process of differentiation and combination, intertitudinal, extremely complex.” ”
Soldiers of the Resistance in Panjshir Province on 19 August.
“Some of the sporadic information we have now reflects the divisions within the Taliban, on the one hand, what we are hearing is that the mainstream Taliban continue to say in the media that ‘moderate’ and ‘establish an inclusive government’. But there have also been negative reports, such as the Taliban’s violations of women’s rights and even raids on former government officials, reflecting internal divisions. ‘In the past, the Taliban were by no means a piece of iron, with hardliners and moderates, ‘ Mr. Liu said.
“In a situation of internal division, an important issue is how the Afghan Taliban deal with terrorist organizations such as al-Qa’idah and the Pakistani Taliban, which is particularly difficult at a time when the Afghan Taliban are already at the centre of power.”
Moreover, for Afghanistan, the “crossroads” of Central Asia, the influence of the great powers has traditionally shaped the fate of their countries. Liu Zhongmin believes that in the future, Saudi Arabia, Iran, even Pakistan, Turkey, the typical Islamic powers, their influence against the Taliban will be very fierce, will further “tear” the Afghan Taliban.
“Afghanistan, like a modern country is not a modern country, is still in the ‘wind’ of a big country,” zhang Jiadong said, “the best way for such a country is to engage in a pluralistic and inclusive system at home, to engage in multilateral balanced diplomacy in the international arena, once other paths are chosen, and eventually either divided by domestic contradictions or involved in the struggle of great powers.” ”
“Overall, a country’s destiny is the result of a combination of internal and international factors, and internal causes are central.”
Who left Afghanistan in the “old days”?
Whether it was the vast Empire of Precious Frost or the Kingdom of Afghanistan, founded in 1747, Afghanistan was once once strong. Why, in modern times, has the country been mired in abyss of weakness and strife?
“National” and “economic” are the answers given by Zhang Jiadong: “Afghanistan’s plight is not caused today, but has been unresolved.” If you look at it from a national composition point of view, you can compare it with Switzerland, Afghanistan, no one nation can be called the main ethnic group, the largest Pashtuns also accounted for more than 40%, Switzerland is also the same, no nation can be more than half, this is a basic situation. ”
“Modern countries build nationalist discourse, relying on a dominant nation, if not difficult, very few success stories, there are individual successes in these countries like Switzerland, but also failures like Afghanistan, Lebanon.”
Because these countries have a basic characteristic, Zhang said, all the peoples that make up the country belong to that ethnic minority worldwide, “such as the Pashtuns, mainly in Pakistan, the minority in Afghanistan, and the Tajiks.” This is a very awkward situation.”
“The reason for this is that Afghanistan was at the crossroads of British and Russian influence in Asia, and both sides tried to avoid each other controlling the buffer zone by funding locals, while avoiding direct knife-wielding meetings. As a buffer belt, Afghanistan has been cobbled together by the major powers into a ‘platter’. ”
The second reason, Mr Zhang concludes, is that Afghanistan’s economic base is too backward, “Afghanistan is located in the heart of Asia, with little land, poor resources, much worse agricultural conditions than neighboring countries and regions, and a high population density, so the country can’t survive on its own.” ”
The United Nations says the 2018 drought and 2019 floods have dealt a devastating blow to smallholder farmers in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s ethnic situation does not support national identity, and its economic situation cannot afford a model of strong government, which means that Afghanistan cannot do anything about the lives of ordinary people. Therefore, there has been a central and local “divide” situation, “to be clear, the central government is not responsible for the lives of ordinary people, because there is no responsibility, the economic base can not support.” ”
However, Afghanistan’s modernization can not rely solely on external forces, external forces in the wooing of Afghanistan to spend some money to contribute, but normal intervention is not possible.
As Biden himself acknowledged, america’s policy goal in Afghanistan is not reconstruction. “So as soon as the Americans leave, Afghanistan will go from being ‘single influence’ to multi-factor conflict, and further internal chaos and further tearing are inevitable.” Zhang Jiadong said.
Where will such a traditional country, torn apart by internal and external forces and far from transitioning to modern society, move in the midst of this political upheaval? Liu Zhongmin’s view may reflect many people’s doubts: “Maybe no one thinks the Taliban is the best choice, but the situation in Afghanistan, in addition to the Taliban, who else?” ”