Home Stamp collecting Taliban security hailed by some, feared by others

Taliban security hailed by some, feared by others



KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – It was not yet 7 a.m. and the line outside the gates of the police station was already long, with men bringing their complaints and demands for justice to the new Afghan Taliban leadership .

Something new they immediately discovered: Taliban fighters who are now police officers are not demanding bribes like the police have done under the US-backed government for the past 20 years.

“Before, everyone stole our money,” said Hajj Ahmad Khan, who recently stood in line at Kabul District 8 police station. “Everywhere in our villages and in government offices, everyone was reaching out,” he said.

Many Afghans fear the harsh ways of the Taliban, their harsh ideology or their severe restrictions on women’s freedoms. But the movement has a reputation for being uncorrupted, a stark contrast to the government it toppled, which was notoriously plagued by corruption, embezzlement and corruption.

Even residents who shudder at the potential return of punishments – like cutting off the hands of thieves – say some security has returned to Kabul since the Taliban arrived on August 15. Under the previous government, thieving gangs had driven out most of the people. the streets by darkness. Several roads between cities are open again and have even been given the green light for travel by some international aid organizations.

Yet there are dangers. A bomb outside Kabul’s Eid Gah mosque on Sunday killed several civilians and targeted members of the Taliban attending a memorial service. No one took responsibility for the bombing, but the Islamic State’s rival group stepped up attacks on the Taliban in an IS stronghold in eastern Afghanistan.

When they last came to power in the late 1990s, the Taliban offered a compromise: they brought stability the Afghans desperately sought and eliminated corruption, but they also imposed their harsh interpretation of Islamic law. This included punishments such as hand amputations, executions of murderers with a single bullet to the head, most often by a relative of the murder victim, and all performed in public. Religious police beat men for cutting beards or for not attending prayers.

Last week, the Taliban arrested 85 suspected criminals, some charged with petty crimes and others with murder, kidnapping and theft, said Noor Ahmad Rabbani of the Taliban’s anti-crime department.

The Taliban say they will bring back their previous punishments. The only question is whether they will publicly execute them, Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, former justice minister and current head of prisons, told The Associated Press.

Some punishments have already reappeared. The bodies of four men were hung from cranes in the center of the town of Herat, after being killed by Taliban as they allegedly attempted a kidnapping. On at least two occasions in Kabul, petty thieves marched through the streets to shame them, handcuffed, their faces made up or with stale bread stuffed in their mouths.

Armed Taliban took up positions at checkpoints across Kabul and gradually some were forced to wear uniforms – the beginnings of a new national security force, officials said. For many residents of Kabul – especially the young people who grew up with horror stories about the previous period of the Taliban regime – the sight of the fighters is frightening as they roam the streets freely, with their hair long, their hair traditional clothes and their hanging Kalashnikov rifles. by their side.

But so far, they seem to have eased the corruption. Before the Taliban takeover in August, people had to pay bribes just to pay a utility bill. Widespread fraud in the military is one of the reasons it collapsed so quickly in the face of the advancing Taliban. Despite the overt corruption, the United States and Europe have poured billions of dollars into government with little oversight.

As in the past, the Taliban turned to tribal elders to settle disputes. Last week, a group of elders gathered in a Kabul mosque to try a stabbing attack that left minor injuries. The elders ordered the culprit’s father to pay the victim the equivalent of nearly $ 400, enough to cover medical bills.

Muhammed Yousef Jawid accepted his punishment.

“It’s fast and a lot cheaper than the previous system,” he said.

At District 8 Police Station, the new commander, an affable Taliban named Zabihullah, said the Taliban had fought for 20 years to impose Islamic laws in Afghanistan. “Now people are safe under our government,” he said.

Zabihullah, who like many Afghans has a name, is from central Ghazni province, where the insurgents have fought some of their fiercest battles in the past two decades.

At 32, he said he had no training to become a police commander and most of his education was at a madrassa or religious school. But Zabihullah said his years of war and his adherence to the Taliban interpretation of Islamic law had prepared him.

In front of the gates of the police station, the line lengthened.

Khan, 60, had come from the eastern province of Khost to ask the Taliban for help in collecting an unpaid loan. He said he supported Taliban punishments like amputations, but not for petty thieves.

He said they provided some security “because they are treating the criminal according to Islamic law”.

A school principal, who did not want to give his name for fear of reprisals, went to the police station to complain about parents who are months behind on school fees.

He said he wanted to give the Taliban regime a chance. Under the previous government, he was charged with bribes whenever he went to the police to complain about overdue payments.

“America invested a lot of money in Afghanistan, but it was a mafia that ruled the country,” he said.

Another claimant, who gave his name only as Dr Sharif, had recently returned from Saudi Arabia where he had worked for several years. He had no objection to Taliban-style punishments, but vigorously objected to Taliban leaders and clerics being in charge of government departments.

“We need professionals (…) we need economic specialists, not a maulvi who has no idea of ​​business,” he said, using a word for a Muslim cleric.

Yet he was happy to have heard his complaint without any request for a bribe from the Taliban police. Previously, the police demanded a bribe just to enter the police station.

“The mistake of previous governments,” he said, “is that they put all the money in their pockets.”


Associated Press writer Samya Kullab in Kabul contributed to this report.