The Taliban fighters who took over the country in 2021 are having a hard time adjusting to life in big cities, according to new analysis featuring interviews with former fighters.
Interviews with former fighters collected by Afghanistan-Analysis.org offer insight into the struggles of Taliban members following the terrorist group’s ascension to governance in the country. The findings suggest that former fighters are facing immense difficulties adjusting to their new environment in Afghanistan’s bustling cities.
Having grown up in rural Afghanistan and Afghanistan’s persistent war, which has affected much of the country for decades, these Afghanis now find themselves immersed in a relatively foreign fast-paced city life. Such drastic changes from war-stricken Afghanistan can be a difficult transition for anyone, even for experienced fighters accustomed to dealing with dangerous situations.
Tribal tensions had long existed between Omar Mansur’s former home and Kabul, where he relocated to last year, but it is the effects of strenuous city life that have made the 32-year-old former Taliban fighter wary. Describing the lack of freedom and increased congestion that comes with municipality living, Mansur highlighted the issues to a reporter: “What I don’t like about Kabul is its ever-increasing traffic holdups. Last year, it was tolerable but in the last few months, it’s become more and more congested.”
Moreover, he expressed his displeasure for the new restrictions imposed during post-“fatha” times stating, “In the group, we had a great degree of freedom… whether to participate in the war,” but after taking over the country, he is forced to work in an office for pay.
Taliban have entered the office 9-5 world and hate it for obvious reasons pic.twitter.com/knZWb7B8wc
— Lord Miles (@real_lord_miles) February 5, 2023
Huzaifa, a former sniper for Taliban, made his observations about his new life in the city of Kabul clear when he said “One thing I don’t like about Kabul is that people have moved here from all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and among them, a large number of criminals from across Afghanistan have made their way here and turned the city into a hub for their illegal activities.” He added that he’s witnessed “savagery” against women in the city.
Kamran, a third former Taliban fighter, expressed a heartfelt longing for his old life during the “time of jihad,” when he felt that every moment was dedicated to worship. He went on to describe how this earnest diligence and devotion to service gave way to the pursuit of money and fame upon conclusion of “the fatha.” He added, “Many of us have now caged ourselves in our offices and palaces, abandoning that simple life.”
Still, some acknowledged the benefits of city living. Mansur, for one, noted that he appreciates Kabul’s “relative cleanness and how facilities have been modernised and improved,” specifically “the buildings, roads, electricity, internet connection,” and the many amenities. “You can find taxis even at midnight, hospitals are on the doorstep, and schools, educational centres, as well as madrasas are all easily available on every corner of the city.”
Though Afghanistan has remained somewhat shrouded in mystery since Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal, these new profiles suggest that Taliban fighters are adjusting to a way of life that may seem familiar to many in the West.