Conflicts & War

2 Years In Power: Contrasting luxury for high-ranking Taliban, misery for others

Kabul, Aug 14 (EFE).- The transition of the Taliban from an insurgent group hiding in the mountains to running urban administrations marks a contrasting modus vivendi for high and low-ranking ex-fighters after two years of the Islamists in power.

While high-ranking officials enjoy luxurious lifestyles with lavish homes, cars, and amenities, along with multiple wives, the story is different for lower-ranked Taliban members.

As the Taliban stormed into power on Aug. 15, 2021, their members faced challenges adapting to the demands of office life and a civilized environment.

In its initial days, the Taliban ran the government machinery by retaining technical personnel from the previous government even as they confronted ideological resistance from ex-staff.

The Islamist ex-combatants embarked on a learning curve of governance and offered its members opportunities to acquire administrative skills.

But the transition from insurgency to governance came with contrasting living conditions for the Taliban haves and have-nots.

For those down in the ranks, government responsibilities brought about massive pressure and challenges.

For many Taliban members, a settled life meant taking on family responsibilities.

The movement previously covered their family needs, but the new reality came with a demand for financial support.

And for the higher-ups, the shift brought luxury and expansive lifestyles, as they occupied the homes of former government officials and ministers, a middle-ranked Taliban member told EFE anonymously.

The high-ranking Taliban officials also got chances to travel and host parties, sometimes at places previously targeted by their fighters.

The issue of polygamy by Taliban officials stirred controversy as their members and the Afghans, in general, objected to the extravaganza.

But the officials offered various justifications, citing the need for positive change and happiness after years of war and deprivation.

“We are prohibited from other ways and the Sharia has given us this option (of having multiple wives,” said Mawlawi Ahmad Ikhlas.

Taliban official Qari Rahmatullah Gulzad told EFE he wanted to raise a family. “My wife was not able to bear a child as she got old. Therefore I married again, and thank god, I have hope for a child now.”

High-ranked Taliban official Haji Agha was enjoying with his friends and bodyguards at the Spogmai restaurant in the Qargha area of Kabul province.

The eatery was targeted by the Taliban in 2012, killing 20 people. Spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid then famously said they would target all such places where foreigners eat.

Now flanked by his friends, Haji Agha praised the place.

“This (restaurant) is a nice place, with a beautiful view, and some delicious food.”

However, critics say such lifestyle evidenced corruption, particularly given the dire economic circumstances faced by the majority of the population in a country ravaged by decades of debilitating conflict.

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