The Taliban marked the first anniversary of their return to power in Afghanistan with a national holiday on Monday, after a turbulent year in which women’s rights were crushed and a humanitarian crisis worsened.
Just a year earlier, radical Islamists occupied Kabul, ending 20 years of US-led military intervention following their nationwide lightning strike against government forces.
“We have fulfilled the obligation of jihad and liberated our country,” said Niamtullah Hekmat, a fighter who entered Kabul on August 15 last year, hours after then-President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
The chaotic withdrawal of foreign forces continued until August 31, with thousands arriving at Kabul’s airport hoping to be evacuated from any flights from Afghanistan.
News bulletins around the world carried images of crowds clinging to some US military cargo planes as they stormed the airport, the plane climbed up and rolled down the runway.
Officials have yet to announce an official ceremony to mark the anniversary, but state television said it would broadcast the special event.
However, Taliban fighters expressed happiness that their movement was now in power – even as aid agencies say half of the country’s 38 million people live in extreme poverty.
“The moment we entered Kabul, and when the Americans left, they were moments of joy,” said Hekmat, who is now a member of the special forces guarding the presidential palace.
– ‘Life has lost its meaning’ –
But for ordinary Afghans – especially women – the Taliban’s withdrawal has added to the difficulties.
Initially, the Taliban promised a softer version of the rigid Islamic regime, which characterized its first term in power from 1996 to 2001.
But many restrictions have been imposed on women for following the movement’s rigid vision of Islam.
Tens of thousands of girls have been thrown out of secondary schools, while many women have been barred from returning to government jobs.
And in May, he was ordered to completely cover himself in public, ideally with a burqa.
“From the day they came, life has lost its meaning,” said Ogai Amail, a resident of Kabul.
“Everything has been taken away from us, they have even entered our private space,” he said.
On Saturday, Taliban fighters beat up female protesters and opened fire in the air to disperse their rally in Kabul.
While Afghans acknowledge the reduction in violence since the Taliban came to power, the humanitarian crisis has left many helpless.
“People coming to our shops complaining about the high prices that we shopkeepers are starting to hate ourselves,” said Noor Mohamed, a shopkeeper in Kandahar, the real power center of the Taliban.
However, for Taliban fighters, the joy of victory outweighs the current economic crisis.
“We may be poor, we may face hardships, but the white flag of Islam will now always be high in Afghanistan,” said a fighter guarding a public park in Kabul.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)