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One year after Taliban takeover, Afghanistan plagued by repression, hunger

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EXACTLY one year ago, August 15, 2021, the Taliban took over Afghanistan, promising to bring peace to the country racked by decades of conflict and United States (US) occupation, but at the moment, reports of repression, poverty and injustice are widespread across the nation.

Women and girls have held demonstrations in the heart of Kabul, the protests coinciding with the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover.

“Bread, work, education, freedom,” they chanted as Taliban soldiers resorted to aerial firing to disperse the protesters.

According to Amnesty International’s investigative report titled ‘Death in Slow Motion: Women and Girls under Taliban rule’, the Taliban’s draconian policies are depriving millions of women and girls of the opportunity to live safe, free, fulfilling lives.

“In less than a year, the Taliban have decimated the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. They have violated women’s and girls’ rights to education, work and free movement and demolished the system of support for women and girls fleeing domestic violence,” the report said.

“Women who peacefully protested against these restrictions and policies have been harassed, threatened, arrested, forcibly disappeared, arbitrarily detained and tortured,” it added.

The country is also facing what the United Nations (UN) calls the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. More than half of its 38 million people are facing starvation and millions of children are suffering from malnutrition.

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The US has frozen billions of dollars belonging to Afghanistan, crippling the country’s economy. The western world has cut foreign aid, refusing to put money in the hands of the Taliban, citing their abuse of women’s rights and human rights.

The Joe Biden administration says it will not release the $7 billion in reserves in Afghanistan’s central bank and has suspended talks with the Taliban on the matter after the US found, and killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike late last month, in Kabul, the country’s capital city.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West told the Wall Street Journal in a statement that recapitalization of the Afghan central bank was not a near-term option.

“We do not have confidence that that institution has the safeguards and monitoring in place to manage assets responsibly,” West added.

However, in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, senior Taliban leader Anas Haqqani said over the past one year, the Taliban has brought “huge and numerous” development in addition to securing the country’s freedom and independence.

“Our paramount goal was to free our country of the shackles of occupation, to regain our freedom and independence, and that is what we accomplished.

“We do not wish to interfere in other countries or peoples’ affairs. It has been only one year since we assumed power, and the world should not expect us to achieve all our goals overnight.

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“It is next to impossible, especially that [the international community] has not fulfilled their promises, including recognition of our rule and foreign aid. Despite the delay on their part, we, by the grace of God, achieved huge progress on many fronts,” Haqqani noted.

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