Afghans go online to slam Taliban ahead of peace talks

Stalled talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government are expected to begin soon. — Reuters pic
Stalled talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government are expected to begin soon. — Reuters pic

 KABUL, July 20 — Thousands of Afghans have joined an online campaign to denounce the Taliban, posting accounts of brutal activity by the insurgents ahead of expected peace talks.

The United States is hoping to draw down its military involvement in Afghanistan and draw a close to its longest war after Washington signed a deal with the Taliban earlier this year.

Stalled talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government are expected to begin soon, and American soldiers are slated to leave by May 2021 in exchange for security guarantees.

But many Afghans fear that too many concessions have been granted to secure the participation of the Taliban.

“Giving into terror and appeasing the Taliban is not the solution,” Aziz Hakimi, an Afghan journalist and civil rights activist wrote on Twitter.

The online campaign has generated thousands of posts condemning human rights abuses committed by the insurgents, accompanied by a hashtag that translates as “do not redeem the Taliban”.

Before they were deposed by US forces in 2001, the Taliban governed Afghanistan with brutal suppression of anything they deemed contrary to their interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

They introduced punishments like public executions and amputations along with severe dress codes.

Women were forced to wear burkas and banned from school, and men were required to grow beards.

“As an Afghan woman, who was born in exile, raised and studied in wartime, I fear Taliban’s interpretation of Islam, particularly when it comes to women’s rights,” lawyer Fereshta Abbasi tweeted.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid dismissed the latest campaign as an attempt to derail the upcoming talks, which were due to start in March but have faced repeated delays.

The denunciations were “being promoted by superficial people who are ignorant and are against peace,” he told AFP today. — AFP               

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