The Taliban, on Wednesday (16/8), banned the existence of political parties in Afghanistan, arguing that the activities of parties are against Islamic law, or sharia.
The move comes a day after Afghanistan’s de facto leaders marked the second anniversary of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
The Taliban Justice Minister Abdul Hakim Sharaee announced the ban at a news conference in the capital Kabul.
“There is no Shariah legal basis for political parties operating in this country. They do not serve the national interest and this country also does not value their existence,” he said without going into details.
More than 70 political parties large and small were officially registered with the Ministry of Justice until two years ago, when then-Taliban insurgents seized control of war-torn Afghanistan.
Since then, the Taliban have been constantly accused of curbing freedom of association, assembly and expression to suppress criticism, and only permitting its supporters to carry out such activities.
Since then, the Taliban have imposed a strict interpretation of Sharia law to govern the South Asian country, ranging from forbidding girls from continuing their education beyond the sixth grade, to forbidding most of Afghanistan’s adult women from working and engaging in public activities.
Afghan media has also been attacked, prompting the closure of many channels and news agencies and driving hundreds of journalists to flee the country.
The United Nations and other monitoring organizations around the world have consistently criticized the deteriorating human rights conditions in Afghanistan and demanded the Taliban reverse their restrictions on women and civil liberties.
The Taliban seized power on August 15, 2021, when the US and NATO withdrew all their forces after 20 years of the Afghanistan war.
The Taliban’s takeover of power prompted Afghanistan’s leading political party leaders and politicians to flee the country, fearing reprisals for their links to the previous US-backed government.
Many of Afghanistan’s political leaders, who are in exile, oppose the new rulers in Kabul and have called for armed resistance to oust them, but the international community has not supported their campaign.
Foreign countries refuse to recognize the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate rulers because of their treatment of Afghan women and their exclusion of other ethnic and political groups from running the government.
Torek Farhadi, an Afghanistan political observer, said the Taliban followed the example of the Gulf countries which do not have political parties.
“What is needed is the participation of women and people from various backgrounds to participate in conversations about the future of the country,” said Farhadi.
“While it may sound politically incorrect, political parties can create unnecessary divisions in Afghanistan today, and that is not what the country needs right now.”
The United Nations says war and years of drought have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, where two-thirds of the population needs aid. (rd/lt)