Photo: United Nations

New Report by UN Chief Highlights Taliban’s Internal Rifts 

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES – The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, says that after two and a half years of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, disagreements are growing among their authorities over key governance issues, including the enforcement of the drug ban.

In his quarterly report titled “The Situation in Afghanistan and Its Implications for International Peace and Security,” released on Wednesday, March 6, the UN chief stated that there has been no advancement toward inclusivity in institutions and decision-making processes.

He noted that the regime continues to appoint and reshuffle individuals loyal to their Kandahar-based supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, in government positions.

In March 2023, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution requesting the UN chief to provide a report every three months on the situation in Afghanistan and the implementation of the mandate of the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), including at the subnational level.

Regarding the situation of women and girls under Taliban rule, the report emphasizes that the restrictions imposed on them remained in place, with some areas experiencing stricter enforcement.

Since their resurgence to power, the Taliban’s severe restrictions on women’s rights have established one of the world’s most oppressive regimes for women and girls.

In a recent restrictive measure, the Kabul regime has begun arresting women and girls in the capital and many other provinces for failing to comply with the Taliban’s dress code, which dictates that proper attire must extend below a woman’s knee.

The report underscores that the UN office in Afghanistan has documented allegations of ill-treatment, incommunicado detention, and the demand for payment in exchange for the release of a female relative.

The report further says that despite the Taliban’s claim of a general amnesty, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests of former government officials and soldiers persist.

“During the reporting period, UNAMA documented at least five extrajudicial killings and seven arbitrary arrests of former government officials and soldiers and two instances of extrajudicial killings, 17 arbitrary arrests of individuals accused of being affiliated with NRF and IS-KP.” 

Regarding the Taliban’s suppression of media and journalism, the UN chief emphasized that journalists and civil society activists continue to encounter significant risks while carrying out their activities in Afghanistan.

Despite the Taliban’s assertion of maintaining security in Afghanistan, the report highlights a 38% increase in conflict-related security incidents compared to the same period last year.

“The central region saw the highest number of incidents, with 263 incidents recorded during the period, followed by the north-eastern region, where 247 incidents were recorded.”

Both the Central highlands and the north-east were the most secure areas before the Taliban came to power. The increase in security incidents in these regions speak to the rise in persecution by the Taliban of ethno-linguistic communities the Taliban considers unfavorable and have lost all voice and power in the decision-making processes.

Additionally, the report states that the Afghanistan Freedom Front (AFF), an armed anti-Taliban group, continued its campaign of assassinations and small-scale attacks against Taliban forces, carrying out at least 24 confirmed attacks between November 1, 2023, and January 10, 2024.

According to the UN chief’s report, while the microeconomic situation of Afghanistan remained stable as of January 2024, the trade deficit increased from $4.4 billion in 2022 to $5.9 billion in 2023. This occurred as imports surged by 23% to $7.8 billion, while exports experienced only a modest growth of 0.4% to $1.9 billion.