The Taliban’s stunning victory in Afghanistan was an immense shock to nations around the globe. In a matter of weeks, 20 years of history have been reversed at a pace nobody anticipated. This victory has left many political pandits flabbergasted and has also proved wrong a huge pile of books and research papers. Though the Taliban have fully established their rule in the war-ravaged country but the path ahead for them is a challenging one. Governing a bitterly divided land ravaged by decades of conflict is perhaps more difficult than winning a war. After getting control of Kabul, the Taliban are going to face multiple challenges on multiple fronts.
Due to the presence of different approaches and mindsets in the Taliban group, perhaps the most serious challenge for them is to maintain unity within the ranks. Many of the ideological and factional differences that were swept aside during the war are expected to resurface with the group now in power. Some fear that the formation of an interim government will further widen the cleavage. Further, Taliban need global recognition to get legitimacy and for that they have to ensure an inclusive government that gives women and minorities their rights. They have to give assurance to the world that the Afghan soil will not be used against any country.
Another issue is access to money and foreign funds to keep the country running. Afghanistan massively depends upon foreign countries, with foreign aid contributing 20 percent to Afghanistan’s gross income. Furthermore, the USA’s move to freeze the Afghan central bank’s assets, which were equal to 9.5 billion dollars, and the suspension of International Monetary Fund programme has exacerbated the situation. Many analysts believe that China and Russia will extend the Taliban financial support. Both these countries can take this as an opportunity to expand their influence to Kabul.
Another challenge before the Taliban is governance. In order to run an effective administration the Taliban needs educated, trained and skilled manpower. Taliban lacks the technocratic experience to govern the country. They are adept at fighting but managing state affairs, public services and economic affairs is a different kettle of fish. According to reports, 120,000 people fled from Afghanistan due to the Taliban’s takeover, among them qualified professionals, civil servants, and lawyers, a brain drain that needs a quick reversal so that skilled people return to their home and serve the country. These are some of the more serious problems the Taliban administration needs to focus on.
Taliban’s control of Kabul was the first stage of the process but now managing Kabul seems a hard nut to crack. All the challenges are unavoidable, especially issues related to finance, governance, and international recognition. China and Russia may help the Taliban but still they have to embark on a long journey to govern and keep Kabul.
—The writer is a post-graduate student of Political Science. [email protected].