The Changing Face of Kabul Under Taliban Rule

Thu Nov 30 2023
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KABUL: Since the Taliban’s return to power in 2021, Kabul has experienced significant transformations, marked by ambitious initiatives undertaken by municipal authorities.

These changes, aimed at improving the city’s infrastructure and security, coexist with a more subdued atmosphere due to restrictions imposed by the Taliban, particularly affecting women’s participation in public life.

Under the Taliban’s leadership, Kabul’s municipal authorities have embarked on an extensive program funded by aggressive tax collection. The city has witnessed improvements in various aspects of daily life, including roadworks, the development of public monuments, and extensive clean-up campaigns. These efforts contribute to a cleaner and safer environment, addressing long-standing issues that residents have faced.

The Taliban’s approach also involves social policing, with initiatives to clear the streets of drug addicts and categorize beggars based on perceived legitimacy. This reflects the Taliban’s commitment to enforcing their interpretation of Islamic principles and societal norms. While such measures may contribute to a sense of order, they also raise concerns about individual freedoms and human rights.

Kabul, once heavily fortified during the previous government’s rule, has experienced a shift in accessibility. Efforts to reopen more than 100 kilometers of roads that were previously closed due to security concerns aim to restore mobility and connectivity for residents. However, security challenges persist, and checkpoints originally established to counter the Taliban now serve to deter threats from groups like the Islamic State.

One notable aspect of the security landscape is the extensive surveillance infrastructure implemented in Kabul. Around 62,000 surveillance cameras have been strategically placed across the city, contributing to a reduction in petty crime. While enhancing security, the widespread surveillance raises questions about privacy and individual freedoms.

Despite these improvements, Kabul faces ongoing challenges, including traffic congestion and pollution. The city’s infrastructure struggles to cope with the demands of a growing population. While roads have been reopened, traffic jams persist, highlighting the need for comprehensive urban planning to address transportation issues.

The atmosphere in Kabul has also undergone a significant shift. Once vibrant and bustling, the city now experiences a more somber mood. Restrictions imposed by the Taliban, especially on women’s activities, have led to a reduction in the number of women seen in public spaces. The closure of beauty parlors and limitations on women’s access to parks, sports halls, and gyms contribute to a more conservative and controlled urban environment.

The economic struggles faced by Kabul residents add to the overall mood of the city. The Taliban’s measures, while addressing some security concerns, have impacted the livelihoods of many, leading to economic difficulties. The combination of restricted activities, economic challenges, and changes in the social landscape has created a complex dynamic in the city.

The changing dynamics in Kabul under Taliban rule reflect a complex interplay of security measures, infrastructure improvements, and societal changes. While efforts to enhance security and address long-standing issues are evident, the impact on individual freedoms, economic well-being, and the overall atmosphere of the city presents a multifaceted picture of Kabul’s evolving reality.

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