Jobs and smartphones: Taliban adapt to new period to woo Afghan youth

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NEW DELHI — The Taliban retook Afghanistan after an almost two-decade battle with U.S. forces, a feat the Islamic fundamentalist group achieved by wooing impoverished youths with social media and the promise of jobs.

The group imposed strict Islamic guidelines that banned tv, music and training for women throughout its final reign from 1996. But it has since tailored to the trendy period at the least in some methods by accepting the web and smartphones.

“We get up at 5 a.m. to hope collectively and recite the Quran,” stated a Taliban fighter in his 20s who’s a guard in Kabul. “We eat breakfast, then we begin working at 7. We use smartphones, too.”

He checks the information on his telephone after returning dwelling to his spouse round 6 p.m. He additionally makes calls however doesn’t watch films or different leisure on it. He helps out with chores and spends time with household on days off.

Founded in 1994 by fundamentalist college students, the Taliban are believed to include about to 50,000 to 80,000 male fighters. The final time the group was in energy, there was no web entry due to the dearth of infrastructure.

It now lets members use the web and posts content material to such platforms as Twitter. When a Taliban spokesman appeared earlier than the press on Aug. 17 after an prolonged absence from the general public eye, many in his entourage had been seen snapping selfies on their smartphones.

Taliban leaders acknowledge that with out a web-based presence, they can not win over the web era and will lose floor to the competitors. Music, films and different leisure accessible over the web are believed to nonetheless be banned.

And for a lot of younger fighters, the group’s final enchantment is its promise of a job.

The Afghan financial system has struggled to take off, even with a flood of worldwide help through the lengthy American keep. In a 2019 survey by the Asia Foundation, greater than 70% of respondents cited an absence of employment alternatives as the largest drawback going through youth. The Taliban are believed to be utilizing income from the drug commerce to lure poor youth with little prospect of discovering work.

“I earn 10,000 afghani ($118) a month, which actually is just not sufficient in any respect,” stated a 20-something fighter ready for his subsequent mission with about 40 others in Kabul. “Still, I’m lucky to work for the Taliban.”

The Taliban had targeted a lot of their efforts on combating the U.S. army. With the American forces now gone, the group is popping its sights to its rivalry with the Islamic State.

The progress made on girls’s rights over the previous 20 years could possibly be overturned by the Taliban.

“I’m pondering of getting a second spouse,” stated a Taliban fighter in his 30s in Uruzgan, a southern province.

“I’m planning to marry a 3rd spouse,” stated a commander in Helmand, one other southern province. Men are permitted to take a number of wives in Islam, however most married Muslim males at present have just one.

Women’s function in society can be unsure below the brand new rulers.

“I could have to surrender my research in inside design,” a Kabul resident in her 30s stated.

“The Taliban will ban girls from training and employment once more in half a yr to a yr, as soon as worldwide curiosity in Afghanistan wanes,” she stated.

“The Taliban say they may change, however nothing has modified,” a lady in her 50s stated. “I do not know after I can return to work.”

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