Taliban-style security welcomed by some, feared by others

By The Associated Press

Kabul: It was just 7 a.m. and there was already a long line outside the police station gate, with men bringing their complaints and demands for justice to the new Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.

They immediately found something new: Taliban fighters, now policemen, do not demand bribes, as did police officers under the US-backed government of the past 20 years.

“Earlier, everyone was stealing our money,” said Haj Ahmed Khan, who was in line at the Kabul District 8 police station on a recent day. “Everywhere in our villages and in government offices, everyone has extended their hand,” he said.

Many Afghans fear the harsh methods of the Taliban, their hardline ideology or their severe restrictions on women’s freedoms. But the movement brings a reputation for not being corrupt, a stark contrast to the government that was full of bribery, embezzlement and corruption.

Even residents who tremble at the possible return of punishments – such as cutting off the hands of thieves – say some security has returned to Kabul since the Taliban arrived on 15 August. Under the previous government, most people were driven out by gangs of thieves. Streets dark. Several roads between cities have reopened and travel has been given the green light by some international aid organizations.

Nevertheless, there are dangers. On Sunday, a bombing outside Kabul’s Idgah mosque killed several civilians and targeted Taliban members attending a memorial service. No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the rival Islamic State group has stepped up attacks against the Taliban in an IS stronghold in eastern Afghanistan.

During their last time in power in the late 1990s, the Taliban offered a trade-off: they brought a stability that Afghans desperately sought and ended corruption, but they also enforced their own harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Of. This included punishments such as beheading, execution of killers with a single shot to the head, often by a relative of the murder victim, and all done in public. Religious police beat up men for not cutting beards or attending prayers.

Noor Ahmed Rabbani, of the Taliban’s anti-crime department, said last week the Taliban arrested 85 alleged criminals, some of whom are accused of petty crimes and others of murder, kidnapping and robbery.

The Taliban say they will bring back their previous sentence. The only question is whether they will take them in public, Mulla Nooruddin Turabi, former justice minister and current prison official, told The Associated Press.

Some convictions have already come to the fore. After being killed by the Taliban while attempting a kidnapping, the bodies of four people were hung from cranes in the city center of Herat. On at least two occasions in Kabul, petty thieves were driven into the streets to shame, handcuffed, their faces painted or their mouths stuffed with stale bread.

Officials say gun-wielding Taliban have taken over checkpoints in Kabul and gradually some have been put on uniforms – the start of a new national security force. For many Kabul residents – especially youth who grew up on horror stories about the previous period of Taliban rule – the sight of fighters is frightening as they roam the streets freely with their signature long hair, traditional dress and Kalashnikov rifles. roam from. From their side.

But till now they seem to be getting rid of corruption. Before the Taliban takeover in August, people only had to pay bribes to settle a utility bill. The massive fraud in the military was one reason it collapsed so quickly in the face of the advancing Taliban. Despite open corruption, the US and Europe poured billions of dollars into the government with the slightest error.

As before, the Taliban has turned to the tribal elders to settle disputes. Last week, a group of elders gathered at a mosque in Kabul to judge a stabbing attack, which resulted in minor injuries. The elders ordered the perpetrator’s father to pay the victim the equivalent of about $400, enough to cover medical expenses.

Mohammad Yusuf Javid accepted his sentence.

“It’s faster, and much less expensive than the previous system,” he said.

At the District 8 police station, the new commander, a friendly Taliban named Zabihullah, said the Taliban had fought for 20 years to bring Islamic laws into Afghanistan. “Now people are safe under our government,” he said.

Zabihullah, a name known to many Afghans, is from central Ghazni province, where the rebels fought some of their bitterest battles over the past two decades.

At 32, he said he had not trained to be a police commander, with most of his education in a madrasa or religious school. But Zabihullah said his years in the war and adherence to the Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic law had prepared him.

The line was getting longer outside the police station gate.

Sixty-year-old Khan had come to the eastern Khost province to seek help from the Taliban to collect outstanding loans. He said he supported amputation-like punishment for the Taliban, though not for petty thieves.

He said they brought some protection “because they deal with criminals under Islamic law.”

A school principal, who did not want to be named for fear of repercussions, had come to the police station to complain about parents who were months behind on school fees.

He said he wanted to give the Taliban regime a chance. Under the previous government, every time he went to the police to complain about payment of dues, he was accused of bribery.

“America put a lot of money in Afghanistan, but it was a mafia running the country,” he said.

Another complainant, 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 punishment, but he argued strongly against placing Taliban leaders and religious clerics in charge of government departments.

He used a term for a Muslim cleric, saying, “We need professional people…

Nevertheless, he welcomed the Taliban police to hear his complaint without demanding a bribe. Earlier, the police had demanded a bribe to enter the police station.

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

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