Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

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The West Lives On in the Taliban’s Afghanistan

< 1 min

Palladium, 23 February 2023

An extensive reportage from Kabul, with some surprising findings of every-day life:

In the bookstores of Kabul, at least, one can still find books by Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama; contraception and tobacco are available, and the Taliban has yet to regulate internet access like other Islamic governments. One can find gyms and restaurants that play Western music, sometimes with young Taliban guards as cautious patrons. Every woman wears a veil of some kind—as was the case before the Taliban took over—but the blue burqas so associated with Taliban rule in the West are worn by only a minority of women. Almost every man in Kabul has a beard, but the Taliban do not bat an eye at the clean-shaven.


… the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice … is severely understaffed: in the entirety of Kabul, a city with more people than Rome or Berlin, they have just two hundred agents. (…) The poor logistical capacity of the state has proven the most important limit on the Taliban’s ability to reshape Afghan life.


My own discussions with Taliban diplomats betrayed a clear eagerness for foreign acceptance, investment, and, if at all possible, official recognition.


It was obviously a desperately poor and undeveloped country, and it was hard to ignore the young children—almost toddlers—selling trinkets or begging for change on the streets. But this poverty, though made more severe by the country’s economic isolation, was not new. Nor was it unique to Afghanistan.