When I looked at that picture, I couldn’t help but compare the tragedy of my generation with that of our future children: We were born in war, but we had an Afghanistan, whereas our children will be born in peace, but they won’t have an Afghanistan. They will be strangers to the country of their parents’ birth.
The Taliban sensed an opportunity. Eager to win more public support for their insurgency and desperate to prevent the Islamic State from making further inroads into their territory, they decided to escalate the fight against the group.
Afghanistan itself was a sideshow in which money and careers could be made and repatriated. In the meantime, an artificial economy was created there to service birds of passage, from diplomats and aid workers to military officials and outside contractors.
Anas Haqqani, the youngest son of a jihadist commander who fought the Russians and the Americans, tells Newlines that the Taliban has learned from its mistakes. But can the Taliban leave their brutal past behind?
Standing next to the king was his wife, Queen Soraya Tarzi, who was to Amanullah what Khadijah was to the prophet. As her husband finished his speech, the queen smiled and looked at the king with pride and affection as she gently tore off her veil, sending shockwaves throughout Afghan society.
In the coming weeks, as the Taliban try to form a new government, they will have to find ways to reconcile the competing interests of the different factions they are trying to court to give their rule legitimacy. It remains to be seen, however, if they have the capacity to enforce discipline within their own ranks.
Pashtuns living in the borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan have often been described as “lawless,” their existence defined by “rebellion” against rulers as disparate as the Mughals and the British. All have offered one solution: state violence.