Afghanistan: Can social gains of last 20 years survive Taliban rule?

LONDON and SEATTLE

In a rugged valley at the eastern tip of Afghanistan, Gul Nasar has seen his village grow and prosper since a US-led military invasion toppled the Taliban in 2001.

Yet today I couldn’t be more concerned about which of those achievements, if any, spanning education, healthcare and the economy, the renewed Taliban government will sustain.

As disappointment over the first test of Taliban control seeps into the village of Nasar, manifestations of such alarm resonate across Afghanistan.

Why we write this

The Taliban are back in control, but they face an Afghan people who protect the social gains made during the 20 years of American presence: women’s rights, health, education and the economy.

Many Afghans see the progress made over two decades jeopardized by the return to heavy-handed rule of the arch-conservative jihadists, whose ranks include many who seem ill-equipped to take on the burden of ruling.

The danger to women’s rights, the Taliban’s perennial dependence on Pakistan’s intelligence service, and the appointment on Tuesday of a men-only interim government have sparked days of street protests in Kabul and other cities that ended in shootings and beatings.

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