As Taliban Crush Dissent, New Leaders Face Cascading Challenges


KABUL, Afghanistan — Solely at some point after the Taliban named an appearing cupboard to steer the nation they spent twenty years making an attempt to overcome, the dizzying challenges that accompanied victory had been coming into sharp reduction Wednesday.

Tensions flared with neighboring Pakistan. Afghanistan’s longstanding humanitarian disaster deepened. And the militants’ brutal crackdown on dissent threatened to additional erode public belief.

The Taliban, who witnesses say crushed a number of small protests across the nation on Wednesday, have been rounding up scores of demonstrators and subjecting them to abuse in overcrowded jails, in accordance with journalists who had been current. The repression adopted a Taliban announcement Tuesday that protests wouldn’t be allowed with out authorities approval.

A number of Afghan journalists stated that they had been arrested and crushed in custody whereas masking a protest Wednesday in entrance of a police station in Kabul — one of many first accounts of journalists being abused for the reason that Taliban got here into energy.

Nemat, a videographer for Etilaat-e Roz, an area newspaper, stated that he and his colleagues had simply arrived on the street the place a number of dozen girls had been gathered with placards and a loudspeaker when Taliban militants from the police station seized his digicam and arrested him.

“I informed them I used to be a journalist and confirmed them my ID card, however they accused me of organizing the protests,” Nemat stated. “They took me right into a room, tied my arms with a shawl and began beating me with a cable.”

Already going through worldwide isolation, the Taliban are additionally struggling to cope with longstanding tensions on the Afghan-Pakistani border, the place the Pakistani Military has continued to shell suspected militant hide-outs in latest days, in accordance with Taliban and Pakistan officers. Sporadic mortar strikes within the rugged reaches of Kunar Province in northeastern Afghanistan the previous week have left at the least 4 individuals injured, together with a toddler, in accordance with senior Taliban officers.

As difficult because the border tensions are — through the years, Pakistan has each supported the Taliban in Afghanistan and accused the Afghan authorities of giving secure haven to a Pakistani department of the Taliban that they view as a direct menace — they’re simply one of many issues on the Taliban’s plate now that the group is in cost.

Throughout its two-decade insurgency, the group exploited the distrust of earlier Afghan governments by the Afghan individuals, and it is aware of properly the type of points that may ignite rebellions.

One former chief, Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president who abruptly resigned in mid-August, remains to be making an attempt to salvage his tattered fame, releasing a press release on Wednesday to disclaim that he stole hundreds of thousands of {dollars} earlier than he fled Kabul within the hours earlier than the capital fell.

He as soon as once more provided an apology, whereas saying his destiny was the identical destiny of those that got here earlier than. “It’s with deep and profound remorse that my very own chapter led to related tragedy to my predecessors — with out guaranteeing stability and prosperity,” his assertion stated.

Whereas the Taliban’s announcement of the brand new management Tuesday was meant to unify the motion and formalize the functioning of the federal government, it raised alarms within the West that the group’s earlier guarantees of inclusivity would possibly show empty.

The brand new cupboard doesn’t embody any girls, it was drawn largely from former leaders from the Taliban’s repressive regime of the 1990s. That strengthened considerations each at dwelling and overseas that the group was returning to the excesses of the previous.

Talking at a information convention on the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken stated that the brand new Taliban authorities “doesn’t meet the check of inclusivity,” and that it contains “individuals who have very difficult monitor information.”

Mr. Blinken famous that the Taliban had recognized their newly chosen leaders as being a part of a “caretaker” cupboard, and stated any American help for a closing authorities will “should be earned.”

The Taliban’s announcement did, nevertheless, obtain cautious approval from Beijing. Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese language international ministry, informed reporters at a briefing on Wednesday that China welcomed the brand new management.

“This has ended the greater than three weeks of anarchy in Afghanistan and is a obligatory step for Afghanistan’s restoration of home order and postwar reconstruction,” he stated, in accordance with a transcript posted by the Chinese language International Ministry.

He stated that China urged the institution of an “open and inclusive” authorities, however that it revered the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.

Contained in the nation, Afghanistan’s new leaders are confronting a bunch of quick crises, together with efforts by these against their rule to ignite a nationwide protest motion.

The Taliban have at instances responded to demonstrations — even these which were comparatively small and led by girls — with brute power.

On Tuesday, Zabihullah Mujahid, the appearing deputy data and tradition minister, stated at a information convention that every one protests needed to be authorised prematurely by the Ministry of Justice.

“The present demonstrations are spontaneous, and a few persons are making a riot,” he stated. He informed reporters they need to not cowl the protests as a result of they’re “unlawful.”

Nonetheless, a day after the warning, protesters had been as soon as once more taking to the streets.

The Taliban haven’t stated what number of demonstrators are in custody, however a number of native journalists painted a harrowing portrait of 1 native jail in Kabul.

When three colleagues of Nemat, the videographer detained on Wednesday, went to the station to ask for his launch, they, too, had been taken into custody, they stated.

“The barracks of the police station had been stuffed with prisoners,” stated Aber, one of many reporters.

He stated he noticed a demonstrator who was coated in blood after being severely crushed, and witnessed Taliban fighters abusing prisoners. “They had been mocking us and saying: ‘You need freedom? What freedom?’” he stated.

The journalists from Etilaat-e Roz had been launched after a number of hours by a Taliban official, who they stated warned them to not cowl “unlawful protests.”

A New York Occasions reporter who interviewed them witnessed intensive patterns of bruising on their our bodies that appeared in keeping with strikes from cable or different blunt object.

“That is the primary very critical incident involving journalists in Kabul, and if we don’t stand collectively, a lot worse issues could occur,” stated Zaki Daryabi, Etilaat-e Roz’s writer. “We haven’t gotten any response from Taliban officers, however want to know the way we are able to lodge a criticism.”

The Taliban didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the detention and assault of journalists.

The brand new authorities can also be fighting a deepening humanitarian disaster.

Peter Maurer, president of the Worldwide Committee of the Pink Cross, traveled to Afghanistan in latest days to fulfill with the Taliban management and go to the group’s amenities.

Whereas there are indicators of a return to normalcy, with retailers open and folks going about their each day routines, misery is obvious in every single place.

Some individuals’s wants are slim, if pressing. They’re trying to find lacking relations, or require pressing medical care. However many merely worry for the long run.

“There’s, at this time second, nonetheless a belief deficit of main proportions in Afghan society,” Mr. Maurer stated Wednesday.

Worry, he stated, is pervasive.

“I used to be struck by the numerous new graveyards I’ve seen on the roadside,” Mr. Maurer stated, testomony to the extraordinary combating in latest months.

Afghanistan’s issues run so deep, have been so lengthy lasting, and are so dire that it’s the collective accountability of the entire worldwide group to supply help, he stated.

Most worldwide help, nevertheless, is more likely to be tied to the Taliban’s capability to observe by means of on a promise to not supply a secure haven for worldwide terrorists. Which may be difficult by the jailbreaks that accompanied their lightning-quick conquest of the nation.

Because the Taliban moved towards the Afghan capital final month, inmates from a jail facility on the Bagram Airfield — about 30 miles north of Kabul — managed to flee with the assistance of supporters profiting from the chaos.

Mr. Maurer stated the Pink Cross was nonetheless working to “get our head round” simply how many individuals are nonetheless being detained within the nation, however he acknowledged that “numerous prisoners” had escaped.

Sami Sahak, Wali Arian, Dan Bilefsky, Michael Crowley and Zia ur-Rehman contributed reporting.



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