“We must fight the Taliban like we’re fighting the pandemic”

Bashir Eskandari is an Afghan migrant, a human rights activist and head of the Cultural Association of Afghans and Catalans

What news have you had from your country?
I was recently sent an audio telling me that the Taliban are going from house to house, to see who has been working with the Westerners. For now, they are investigating. I also know that they have detained activists in Kabul.
And what about women?
The Taliban spokesman made it clear: “There are many Muslim countries, but we have our own law.” This “own law” is very different. In Turkey they are Muslims but women have rights.
Not in Afghanistan?
When the Taliban attacked northern Afghanistan over 20 years ago, they married off girls as young as 12 and kidnapped many women. Now, women are suffering because they don’t know what will happen to them.
What’s your analysis of what has happened?
After 20 years, it’s a disaster. The international community has spent a lot of money, and many Western soldiers have died helping to bring democracy to Afghanistan. When leaving the country, the Americans should not have entrusted the fate of the whole country to the Pashtun leaders. The Taliban are practically a hundred percent Pashtun. It’s Trump’s fault for negotiating with the Taliban and giving them a political identity. Before that, the Taliban were just terrorists! And they are terrorists! In democracies, every few years the president changes, but in the case of the Taliban it’s not like that, the leader doesn’t change, and the policies remain the same.
Are the Taliban strong?
The Taliban are not just Afghans. There are also people from Pakistan, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other groups. They have great power and are a threat.
Should we be alarmed?
The Taliban are like Covid. We need to fight them like we’re fighting the pandemic. Now they have the land, they have the communications, they have it all.
That’s hard to swallow.
Right now, countries are focusing on their own problems, because of Covid, but they don’t realise the other pandemic.
So what happens next?
No one in Afghanistan wants the Taliban. They don’t respect anyone. The country has been at war for over 40 years. And right now the people are just thinking about survival. There’s only one way: the international community has to help them. They have to go back and arm them. The Afghans could liquidate the Taliban, but the people have no weapons.
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