| 26 September 2022, Monday |

Taliban stage show of strength with parade after protests

At the weekend, Taliban militants paraded through a northwest Afghan city in a show of power, only days after reinforcements were dispatched to quiet protests over the imprisonment of a popular leader.

Protests occurred last week in Maymana, Faryab province’s capital, after an Uzbek Taliban leader was jailed for his involvement in an abduction plan.

Fears of tensions between Uzbek and Pashtun people and Taliban insurgents arose as a result of the turmoil, with unsubstantiated claims of both ethnic groups being murdered in isolated fights.

“Hundreds of personnel from adjacent provinces were sent, and the situation is now under control,” Latifullah Hakimi, a senior defense ministry official, told AFP over the weekend.

Columns of masked warriors dressed in identical white shalwar kameez tunics, khaki combat vests, and headscarves imprinted with the Muslim statement of faith marched in the parade on Sunday.

Dozens more highly armed gunmen in jungle camouflage rode on the backs of pick-up trucks and armored vehicles captured from Afghan and US soldiers during the Taliban’s lightning-fast summer conquest.

Maymana residents lined the path, many of them stone-faced as they videotaped the march with their phone cameras.

“The situation was not good two days ago because of the demonstration, but today it is normal,” said Rohullah, a 20-year-old shopkeeper.

“The only issue we have is that people do not have work… yet they are quite satisfied with the security.”

The display of force comes as Afghanistan’s new authorities struggle to transition from insurgency to governing authority in a country on the verge of economic collapse, with the UN estimating that more than half of the population is experiencing severe famine.

Discipline among the ranks, particularly in rural locations, is becoming a problem, with local commanders rejecting edicts from Kabul or carrying out instructions at their own discretion.

The Taliban have created a commission to uncover members flouting norms, promising a milder rule than their 1996-2001 reign, and have dismissed nearly 3,000 individuals.

“We staged a military parade in the city to tell the citizens that we will not allow anyone to disrupt security,” said Jaweed, a Maymana commander who, like many others, only goes by one name.

  • AFP