Taliban mulling over Iran model for Afghanistan, religious clergy will monitor govt headed by political entity

Taliban are reportedly mulling going in for the Iran model to rule Afghanistan, in which religious clergy monitor a government headed by a political entity

Taliban mulling over Iran model for Afghanistan, religious clergy will monitor govt headed by political entity

Muzamal Suharwardy

Taliban faced no resistance in taking Afghanistan. Everything went as smoothly for them as possible. According to a Taliban spokesman, only fifty people lost lives in their operation “AL- FATAH” to take over Afghanistan. Everybody evidently just surrendered meekly in front of Taliban’s military might.

However, it is now clearly becoming problematic for them to form a government. What kind of government can they announce which would be acceptable to the world? How can they show that they are ruling not with force but with the will of people? How do they demonstrate that they enjoy public support?

There is immense pressure on the Taliban to form a broad base government taking all stakeholders along. Everybody is suggesting that they form an inclusive government. Hence, the Taliban have been negotiating with former President Hamid Karzai, chief of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah and former mujahideen leader Gulbadeen Himatyar to join them.

However, they are reportedly not ready to be part of the new government. They are said to be asking the Taliban to go for an interim government which should then go for elections. However, the Taliban ideology has no room for elections in the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan.

As a result, the Taliban are now considering adopting the Iranian model of government, in which religious clergy monitor and guide the government. There is a proposal that the Taliban founder Mullah Omer’s son Mullah Yaqoob acts as the religious head just as Ali Khamenie is Supreme Leader of Iran. With him, there will be a Shura of religious clerics.

There will be a Parliament and a political government, as is the case in Iran. The government is free to serve the people. However, strategic decisions will be taken with the approval of the Shura. Nobody could defy it in any circumstances. There will be national army but just as there is Pasdaran Inqilab (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) in Iran, there will a Taliban force to safeguard the ideology.

Mullah Ghani Bradar, who travelled to Kandhar from Qatar, was given a special plane by the US for the trip, and received a rousing reception upon setting foot in Afghanistan. This clearly indicated that he will head the political face of Taliban. However, it remains unclear if he will be designated as President. Negotiations are on but no decisions have been taken yet.

The Taliban are trying to find a way to form a government which gets them international legitimacy. They know they can rule the country just as they did earlier, but they are aware that this will again lead to international isolation.

They need support of the people. They will have to show flexibility. This is why women are being allowed to work. Taliban has sat in a TV studio with a female anchor. Nobody has been executed. A pardon was announced for all.

On August 18, there were protests in Taliban-controlled areas but nobody was arrested nor killed. This is very unlike Taliban. The Taliban are avoiding bloodshed. But how long, is the question many are asking.

Pakistan is helping Taliban to negotiate and form a government which could be acceptable to the international community. Prime Minister Imran Khan has talked to leaders of top European nations himself to update them on the progress on this front. The Pakistan Foreign Secretary has spoken to the US Secretary of State. The Pakistan Ambassador in Kabul has met the Chinese Ambassador in Kabul.

But there is yet to be any conclusive development as of now.

(The author is a senior journalist based in Lahore. Views are personal)

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Published: 19 Aug 2021, 7:43 PM