Afghanistan Theater

HRW: Afghanistan Hazara community at risk

Inadequate protections by the de facto Taliban authorities in Afghanistan continue to leave the Shi'ite Hazara community at risk of being targeted in atrocities that may amount to war crimes, according a report released May 3 by Human Rights Watch. The report emphasized the threat from the self-declared Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), which continues to carry out attacks targeting Hazara mosques, schools and neighborhoods. In the most recent such attack, on April 29, a presumed ISKP militant opened fire on worshippers at a Hazara mosque at Guzara, in western Herat province, killing six, including a child.

Taliban pledge retaliation for Pakistani air-strikes

Pakistan is accused of killing eight civilians in March 18 air-strikes on Afghanistan. Islamabad says the strikes were conducted in retaliation for a deadly suicide attack on an army base at Mir Ali, North Waziristan district, two days earlier by a cell of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militant group that was operating out of Afghan territory. Afghanistan's Taliban government has denied the charges and promised retaliation for the killing of what it says were mostly women and children in the provinces of Khost and Paktika. This marks the latest escalation between the neighbors since Pakistan enacted a policy that has led to the expulsion of more than 500,000 Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan: UN decries restrictions on women's rights

A United Nations report published Feb. 16 found that the Taliban's restrictions on women's attire and its requirement that women have a male guardian in public are limiting Afghan women’s freedom of movement and access to education, employment, health care and other basic rights. The report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) states that many Afghan women are not leaving their homes alone due to decrees issued by the Taliban. The hardline Islamist regime has demanded women wear specific attire in public, such as the all-covering burqa, and only venture outside if accompanied by a close male relative, known as a mahram.

China moves toward recognition of Taliban regime

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Jan. 29 officially accepted the credentials of the envoy to Beijing from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan—a clear step toward recognition of the regime. A month before that, Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, visited Kabul to meet with Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi—the highest-level meeting between China and the Taliban regime since its return to power in 2021. China has already struck hydrocarbon deals with the Taliban, and has been eyeing Afghanistan's lithium, copper and rare-earth metal mines. This is in line with Beijing's perceived design to establish control over the planet's rare earth minerals. (Eurasian TimesCNBC)

Taliban hydro scheme raises tension with Pakistan

The Taliban regime's announcement of plans for construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Kunar River is escalating tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The 480-kilometer Kunar River originates in the Hindu Kush mountains of central Afghanistan and merges with the Kabul River, which in turn flows into Pakistan where it joins with the Indus. The proposed reservoir and use of the Kunar's waters for irrigation within Afghanistan would mean less water for agriculture in Pakistan, officials protest. One Pakistani provincial minister said that a unilateral decision by the Taliban to build the dam "will be considered a hostile act against Pakistan." Jan Achakzai, information minister for the border province of Balochistan, warned of "severe consequences," including "potential conflict."

Demand 'universal jurisdiction' for Taliban criminals

Amnesty International on Aug. 24 called for the application of "universal jurisdiction" against members of the Taliban accused of crimes under international law. Invocation of this doctrine would give any country the power to prosecute Taliban members for such violations. The statement came two days after a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) which found that Taliban de facto authorities have been committing extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and other forms of maltreatment against former members of Afghanistan's government and security forces. The report said that UNAMA has recorded at least 218 such extrajudicial killings in less than two years, from August 2021 to June 2023. Amnesty stated: "The new UNAMA report demonstrates an unending pattern of extrajudicial killings against members of the former government and security forces since Taliban's return to power in August 2021."

UN human rights office: Taliban not 'reformed'

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a statement Aug. 14 condemning the idea that the Taliban are "reformed" since the last time they were in power in Afghanistan. The statement, written by multiple human rights experts, drew attention to the gap between the promises made by the Taliban upon its return to power in August 2021 and the reality of "gender apartheid" in Afghanistan.

Women's rights at issue as Taliban seek recognition

Roza Otunbayeva, the UN's special representative for Afghanistan, told the Security Council on June 21 that the Taliban's continued restrictions on women made it "nearly impossible" for the international community to recognize it as a legitimate government. In particular, Otunbayeva referred to an April edict banning Afghan women from working with the UN—a follow-up to an earlier ban on them working for local or international NGOs. However, the Islamic Emirate, as the Taliban prefers to be known, continues to push for international recognition, most recently at a meeting of stakeholders in Oslo.

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