The Question of Stability in Afghanistan

Victoria B.

Afghanistan has a long history of being an unstable country. For the last 4 decades, the middle-eastern country has been through foreign invasions, civil war, revolutions, and Taliban rule (NPR). In the present day, the world watches as the country falls into unrest once again. In May of 2021, the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan, and the country’s political identity returned to what it was 20 years ago. The world is now left questioning if Afghanistan will ever be stable again. 

            The Taliban came about in Pakistan in the early 1990s after soviet troops were removed from Afghanistan (BBC). Their aim was to bring back peace and enforce their own version of Islamic law. The group seized power over the greater part of Afghanistan by 1998 after overthrowing the Afghan President– Burhanuddin Rabbani– in 1995. Since then, the Taliban has yet to be neutralized– always having control of some area of Afghanistan. 

            When they were first created, the Taliban gained quite a bit of popularity. They partially kept their promise to reinstate peace in the nation and managed to lower corruption and crime as well as grow the economy by making their area safe enough for trade (New York Times). But it wasn't long until their extreme interpretations of Islamic law began to be questioned–  men were required to have beards, women had to cover their whole body with a burka, television, cinema, and music of any kind were not allowed, and girls above the age of 10 were also encouraged to not go to school (HRW). As American journalist Steve Inskeep put in his Conflict in Afghanistan article, “Day by day, women in Afghanistan have been learning they are less free.”

            More extreme rules included the amputation of thieves' body parts, as well as the public execution of murderers and adulterers (New York Times). These punishments and rules have sparked conflict for human rights activists, and with the Taliban now back in power, the country has reverted to these same rules and more (BBC). As advocates for women's rights have increased in the past few decades, the very idea of the exclusion of women from education prompted international outrage in the late 2000s -- outrage that inspired multiple protests and activists. One particularly famous activist for speaking out against this ban is Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai, who fought for equal education rights for girls and women. 

(Malala Yousafzair, David Levene, The Guardian)

    Though there have been great improvements in allowing women to attend school, a victory thanks to activists like Malala Yousafzai, Afghanistan today is not much better. In early September of this year, the Taliban announced their cabinet of ministers-- a selection that included no female members. Additionally, the Afghani government has removed the women's affairs ministry, an organization that previously worked to fight for and secure women's rights (HRW). Immediately after this decision, Afghani women took to the streets of Kabul to protest peacefully for their rights but were quickly stopped by the Taliban. After a few hours of marching, around 50 Taliban fighters came to whip, beat, and electrocute the protestors (BBC). 

            These conflicts have been building up to a civil war for years, with the more recent contention only increasing its probability. As more and more U.S. troops withdraw and tension in Pakistan and Afghan relations increases, the situation only gets worse. By 2021, stability in Afghanistan seems to be a dream more than a possibility.

Works Cited

"Afghanistan: Taliban Announce New Rules for Female Students." BBC News,
Barr, Heather. "For Afghan Women, the Frightening Return of Vice and Virtue." Human Rights Watch, 29 Sept. 2021,'s%20Affairs%20was%20founded%20in%202001%20with,by%20and%20reminder%20to%20the.
Barr, Heather. "List of Taliban Policies Violating Women's Rights in Afghanistan." Human Rights Watch, 19 Sept. 2021,
Bloch, Hannah. "A Look at Afghanistan's 40 Years of Crisis - From the Soviet War to Taliban Recapture." NPR, 31 Aug. 2021,
Limaye, Yogita, and Aakriti Thapar. "Afghanistan: Women Beaten for Demanding their Rights." BBC News,
Nagourney, Eric. "Who Are the Taliban, and What Do They Want?" The New York Times, 7 Oct. 2021,