In yet another sign that the promises of moderation are for the Westerner to see, the Taliban said on Wednesday (8) that women will not be able to play sports “in which they are exposed”.
The information was given by one of the heads of the cultural commission of the fundamentalist group, which regained power in Afghanistan on August 15 and has just formed a provisional government, to the Australian network SBS.
“I don’t think women will be able to play cricket because there is no need for it,” Ahmadullah Wasiq said. “In cricket, they can face a situation where their face and body will not be covered, and Islam does not allow women to be seen like that. The emirate [como o grupo chama seu governo] does not allow women to play cricket or any sports in which they are exposed.”
The interview was about cricket, which is very popular in the country — the Taliban themselves allowed a game last Friday (3), something they did not do when they ruled the country with an iron fist from 1996 to 2001, until being expelled from power by the American invasion ended August 30th.
There has been no formal decree on the subject, but the comment is in line with the announcement of the new Afghan government: old guard radicals occupy a large part of the positions, without a female presence.
The Ministry of Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice, the feared political police of the Taliban 1.0 years, has been recreated. It is not clear with what powers, especially at a time when external suspicion is growing about the extremists’ discourse that everything would now be different and that there would be more freedom.
All within the scope of sharia, the Islamic law that the Taliban literally follows, as if they lived in the Middle Ages.
The fact that its relatively more cosmopolitan face, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, did not end up with the top head of government under Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada suggests that the group has not changed all that much at all.
In the Taliban years, when the shelter given to Osama bin Laden in the lead-up to 9/11 caused the group to be overthrown at Western hands, women were relegated to domestic roles — they could not study and rarely received medical care.
Now, the Taliban has released the study, provided it is separate from men. Since Thursday (2), there have been occasional protests by women in Kabul and other cities, most of which have been dispersed with more or less violence. On Wednesday, Taliban used whips to fend off women and journalists at an act in the interior of the country.
The new government’s interior minister, responsible for homeland security, is a terrorist with a $10 million prize on the head put by the Americans, Sirajuddin Haqqani.
The United States, which has been harassed by rivals China and Russia over both the occupation and the clumsy withdrawal from the Asian country, continues to try to find a coherent answer to the question about its relationship with the Taliban.
The government’s military area has already said it will be able to cooperate against common enemies, such as the Islamic State terrorist group. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Germany to discuss the issue with his colleague Heiko Maas.
Both want decisions about Afghanistan to come from a collegiate of 20 countries with interests in the region, within the western sphere. Over there, China, Russia, Iran and other countries will hold a meeting on the 16th and 17th to debate their response — Beijing is leading the movement to accept the Taliban.
Even so, given the initial movements of the group in power, the Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated on Wednesday that the Taliban would need to “hear more”, in a sign that their support is conditional — let alone an eventual diplomatic recognition.
The European Union has gone along the same lines, though both remain hopeful that the need for funds to govern might moderate the fundamentalists in practice.
With no relevant internal enemies after the virtual subjugation of the rebellious Panjshir valley, the Taliban might even cherish the idea of shutting down, but that seems very difficult indeed.
In Abu Dhabi, former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also apologized on Wednesday for having fled Kabul when Taliban troops surrounded the city. “It is with deep regret that my own chapter ended with a tragedy similar to that of my predecessors, without guaranteeing the stability or prosperity of Afghanistan. I apologize.”