Taliban leaders issue differing Eid messages, experts say tensions shown

April 12, 2024 by No Comments

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Messages by two influential Taliban leaders in on this week showcased differing views, underscoring tensions between hardliners and on one side, and and more moderate elements who on the other side who want seek to scrap harsher policies and attract more outside support, experts said Thursday. to roll back stricter policies and gain greater international recognition.

The messages for marking the end of Ramadan were delivered by supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, who defended the imposition of Islamic law and railed against the international community for its criticism were released for the end of Ramadan by supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, who spoke in support of implementing Islamic law, and railed against the international community for criticizing the Taliban , and Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, who called on the Taliban to be humble and avoid behaving in ways that make Afghans unhappy. , while Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani urged the Taliban to remain humble and refrain from actions that may cause displeasure among the Afghan populace.

The Taliban seized power in 2021 amid the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. and forces after two decades of war. Their rule, especially bans affecting women and girls, has triggered widespread condemnation and deepened their international isolation. Taliban regained control in 2021 after the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces following two decades of conflict. However, their governance, particularly the restrictions imposed on women and girls, has attracted widespread criticism and intensified their international isolation.

The reclusive Akhundzada released two messages for Eid. In the first, a written statement issued on Saturday in seven languages including Arabic, English, Turkmen and Uzbek, he was conciliatory and pragmatic, with measured advice for officials in the Taliban-controlled administration. Akhundzada, who rarely appears in public, delivered two Eid messages. The first, a written statement released on Saturday in seven languages, including Arabic, English, Turkmen, and Uzbek, reflected a conciliatory and practical tone, providing guidance to officials in the Taliban-controlled government.

He issued the second in a rare public appearance on Wednesday at Eidgah Mosque in the Taliban heartland of Kandahar in the south. His Eid sermon, a half-hour address in Pashto, was more in keeping with the tone and content of his past fiery messages. In a rare public appearance on Wednesday at Eidgah Mosque in Kandahar, Akhundzada delivered his Eid sermon, a half-hour address in Pashto, which was more in line with the tone and content of his previous fiery speeches.

“If anyone has any issues with us, we are open to resolving them, but we will never compromise on our principles or Islam,” he said. “At the same time, we don’t expect Islam to be disrespected. I won’t even take a step away from Shariah (Islamic law). They (the international community) object to it, saying public stoning and amputation are against their laws and human rights. You expect us to follow your laws while imposing them on us.” “We welcome discussions to address any concerns, but we will remain steadfast in our commitment to our principles and Islamic law,” Akhundzada stated. “However, we do not expect disrespect towards our beliefs. I will not deviate from implementing Shariah law. The international community objects to practices such as public stoning and amputations, claiming that they violate their laws and human rights. Yet, they expect us to adhere to their laws while imposing them on us.”

Akhundzada is almost never seen in public. There are no photos from his address, and his face was concealed from the thousands of worshipers. Akhundzada is known for his seclusion. There are no publicly available photographs of his address, and his face was concealed during the event, which was attended by thousands of worshippers.

Haqqani released his Eid message on Wednesday in Afghanistan’s commonly spoken languages of Dari and Pashto. He called on the Taliban to avoid creating a rift between the people and authorities. And, unlike Akhundzada, he referenced the challenges facing the country. On Wednesday, Haqqani released his Eid message in the widely spoken Dari and Pashto languages of Afghanistan. He emphasized the importance of avoiding a divide between the populace and authorities. Furthermore, unlike Akhundzada, Haqqani acknowledged the challenges confronting the country.

“We know that after nearly half a century of problems and difficulties, we cannot easily and urgently expect the kind of life and possibilities we wish for, but the important thing is that the (Islamic) system and the whole nation are working to fulfill these wishes,” he said. “We recognize that after nearly half a century of challenges and difficulties, we cannot swiftly achieve our aspirations for an improved quality of life. However, it is essential to acknowledge that the Islamic system and the entire nation are working towards fulfilling these aspirations,” Haqqani stated.

Michael Kugelman, director of the Wilson Center’s South Asia Institute, said Haqqani, by attempting to show a softer side, was looking to draw trust and support from a broader Afghan public aware of the Taliban’s “brutal form” of governance. But for Akhundzada, the Eid sermon was about consolidating support and loyalty in his circle. According to Michael Kugelman, director of the Wilson Center’s South Asia Institute, Haqqani’s efforts to present a more moderate image are aimed at gaining trust and support from a broader Afghan audience, who are aware of the Taliban’s harsh governance. In contrast, Akhundzada’s Eid sermon was intended to solidify support and loyalty within his inner circle.

The messages also had a global audience in mind. The Haqqani network seeks investment and aid from the international community, Kugelman said. The messages were also intended for an international audience. Kugelman noted that the Haqqani network is seeking investments and assistance from the global community.

“Projecting a softer side is likely meant to make potential donors more comfortable. With the emir (Akhundzada) it’s about signalling that the Taliban’s social agenda, especially its abhorrent policies toward women, isn’t up for negotiation,” he said. “Projecting a more moderate image is likely intended to make potential donors more receptive. On the other hand, Akhundzada’s stance signals that the Taliban’s social agenda, particularly its repressive policies towards women, is non-negotiable,” Kugelman said.

The Taliban have barred women from education beyond sixth grade, most jobs and public spaces like parks. They have implemented corporal punishment and public executions, practices seen during their first period of rule in the late 1990s. The economy is now in decline and Afghans are experiencing drought, hunger, and displacement on a massive scale. Under Taliban rule, women have been prohibited from pursuing education beyond the sixth grade, accessing most employment opportunities, and using public spaces like parks. They have also reintroduced corporal punishment and public executions, practices that were prevalent during their previous regime in the late 1990s. The country’s economy has deteriorated, and Afghans are facing severe food shortages, drought, and widespread displacement.

Pakistani journalist and author Ahmed Rashid, who has written several books about Afghanistan and the Taliban, said the two leaders were sending a strong message to the faithful that nothing has changed despite pressure from the West. Pakistani journalist and author Ahmed Rashid, who has written extensively about Afghanistan and the Taliban, stated that the messages communicated a clear message to the Taliban’s followers: despite pressure from the West, their beliefs and policies remain unchanged.

“There are clearly divisions within the Taliban but they’re holding together,” Rashid said. “There are moderate elements that want to see women educated, but they’re not in a strong position so they’re biding their time.” “While there are divisions within the Taliban, they remain united,” said Rashid. “There are moderate elements who advocate for women’s education, but they lack the necessary influence and are patiently waiting for an opportunity.”

He described Akhundzada as a skilled communicator who used his mosque training to great effect. “It’s how he establishes his writ. But he doesn’t answer questions that people are asking. There are elements of Afghan society who want something better.” Rashid described Akhundzada as a skilled communicator who effectively utilizes his religious training. “Through his sermons, he asserts his authority. However, he avoids addressing the concerns of the people, a segment of Afghan society that aspires for a better future.”

Haqqani has previously spoken out against the Taliban’s leadership and decision-making process, drawing a rebuke from chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. Haqqani has previously criticized the Taliban leadership and decision-making, prompting a response from chief spokesman