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Reports from Afghanistan
under the Taliban -1997
All reports are from "Payam-e-Zan" reporters, unless otherwise mentioned.

  • "Only loose women working in foreign aid agencies"
  • Women workers beaten up in Kabul
  • Taliban impose more curbs on nationals
  • Elections in Afghanistan ruled out
  • Foced abortion, Taliban style
  • Reckoning for wearing thin socks
  • War booty or battleground?
  • Inhuman execution of a murderer puppet (Photo)
  • Photo Gallery


    On May 25, 1997, five female employees of CARE, an international aid agency, were collectively beaten in public in Kabul for ‘associating with foreigners’ and ‘bad hejabi’, a fundamentalist term denoting female attire not conforming with strict Taliban-prescribed dress code for women and girls. The bruised and humiliated women all had official work permits issued by the Taliban authorities. The Taliban militia have further announced that all women working for foreign organisations are wanton. In protest against this outrage CARE suspended all its activities in Kabul until local Taliban authorities were forced to formally apologise for the incident, but Radio Shariat, the official mouthpiece of the Taliban, officially refuted this apology and announced that the Taliban had done nothing to apologise for.


    Kabul, (AFP): The Taliban officials beat up five Afghan women workers employed by a foreign aid agency in Kabul, sources here said Sunday.

    The women who worked for the CARF International Agency were traveling in the agency's car on Saturday when they were stopped by the officials of the Taliban's department for preventing vice and fostering virtue.

    The officials of the department known as religious police forced them out of their vehicles and roughed them up, presumbly for working with a foreign agency, they said.

    None of them were seriously injured, they said.

    The women had documents permitting them to continue working in relief sector, the sources said.

    A ranking official of the so-called religious police department using public address system was heard shouting: "Down with foreign institutions. Down with women who work there."

    CARE has suspended its program of relief work for thousands of poverty-stricken widows following the incident which has triggered new concern among the aid community in Kabul, the sources said.

    "We are going to protest to the Taliban for the act which was committed contrary to their assurances," a foreign aid official said.

    The Daily MUSLIM, May 26,1997


    Peshawar: Besides imposing other restrictions on individual freedom, the Taliban in Afghanistan, have banned the keeping of pigeons and playing with the birds, describing it as un-Islamic.

    The violators of the ban, according to a report from Kabul will be imprisoned and the birds shall be killed. The kite flying has also been stopped.

    Another interesting rule on the subject related to what it described the promotion of Islamic hairstyle. They have advised the Afghans not to go for the American and British hair styles which could land them in jail. The concerned department has also authorized to shave the hair of such people and charge expenses.

    The male tailors have been banned from sewing ladies dresses and taking their body measurements, adding that if any woman or magazines were found at the tailors shop, the owner will be arrested.

    The Daily MUSLIM, May 24,1997


    ISLAMABAD (PPI): Afghan ambassador to Islamabad Maulvi Shahabuddin Dilawar has ruled out holding of elections in Afghanistan saying that the people of the war-ravaged country have already given a verdict in favour of Taliban.

    Addressing a press conference at his residence here Sunday, he said casting votes is a means of determining the views of the people adding that the people sacrificed their lives for Taliban, clearly indicating their support to the movement.

    He pointed out that a gathering of some 2000 ulema from different parts of the country had accepted Mullah Muhajmmad Umar as leader and added that such a large shora allowed him to form the government in accordance with the principles of Islam.

    Dilawar said another gathering of ulema has also confirmed allegiance to Mullah Muhammad Umar.

    Answering a question he said any individual who is a Muslim and has not committed any crime against the people of Afghanistan will be welcomed in the government. "This is the concept of broad-based government", he remarked.

    He said representation of all the political parties does not mean broad-based government and added that the government in Pakistan is not broad-based, if a broad based government means representation of political parties. He, however, said despite the fact that the PPP was out of power, the government in Pakistan led by PML (N) can not be called un-democratic.

    The Afghan ambassador said most critical problem of Afghanistan was caused by factions and parties. He said the nation had been divided by these parties and factions adding that anything that divides the nation should not be allowed.

    He said lives of some 45000 innocent people of Afghanistan were lost during fierce war between Burhanuddin Rabbani and Gulbadin Hekmatyar.

    The Daily MUSLIM, May 26,1997


    On May 29, [1997] Layla living in Khairkhana, Kabul, who was five months pregnant left her house for a routine pregnancy check-up at the nearby Parwan Maternity Clinic. She was dressed head-to-foot in the prescribed chadari [also called burqa] which only allowed a grill through which she could look out but even her eyes could not be seen. She had to wrap her self carefully in the chadari, as allowing her dress to be seen was against the imposed dress code. Halfway to the clinic she felt suffocated and felt an urgent need for fresh air. Turning into a deserted lane she raised her veil and drew deep breaths, relishing the feeling of relief. Suddenly a scourge-wielding Taliban militiaman screaming abuse materialised out of nowhere. "Why have you bared your face! Why have you bared your face!" he kept screaming while he poured out the vilest invectives. His whip hand was raised and before Layla could say anything the blow landed on her distended abdomen. Layla could only scream "Bradar jan, [brother, dear], don’t hit me, I am with child, I am going to the clinic" but the frenzied Taliban kept raining down blows on the miserable woman. The pain and the terror made Layla sit down on the dirt and the Taliban went away after a few more vicious blows of the lash. None of the few passers-by could dare to intercede. By now Layla was bleeding but both she and one or two passers-by knew that she could not hope for a helping hand as there were no women around and it is against Taliban ‘ethics’ and edicts for a male to touch any female other than close family members. Any man extending a helping hand to a woman in need was sure to receive the same treatment that had been meted out to Layla a moment ago. Layla could only drag herself to the clinic where she passed out. When she came to she was drenched in blood and the nurses told her that she had had a miscarriage. They sounded very worried about her own condition and it was not long before she lost consciousness again. The following day she developed a soaring temperature and doctors diagnosed peritonitis. They recommended abdominal surgery but before they could obtain the necessary go-ahead from the Taliban authorities Layla breathed her last.


    On July 5 [1997] at around 11:30 in the morning I was walking along the road to the north of Shahr-i-Nao Park [a park in central Kabul]. I was not very far from the entrance of the Ministry of Martyrs and the Disabled when a steel-cable-thong-wielding Taliban confronted me. I was wearing a chadari and had taken pains to ensure that my appearance was in total conformity with Taliban prescriptions. I was at a loss to understand what I had done to irk the monster. The Taliban asked me fiercely in Kandahari dialect Pashtu "The sock that you are wearing is onionskin-thin. How are going to answer for that on the day of reckoning? You will burn in everlasting fire!" I knew better than to try to defend myself. I told him piteously that I did not have the presence of mind to remember that such socks were prohibited; I had made a grave mistake and pledged that it would not be repeated in the future. My grovelling did not pacify him. "You always have enough presence of mind not to forget books and pens and schooling and to whine that you are not allowed to go to school, but when it comes to showy dress, that’s when you lose your presence of mind!" I saw that I was up against a cretin and the terror of what he might do next rendered me speechless. I remained silent. The Taliban was evidently disappointed as he too had run out of pretexts for harassing me. A crowd had began to form. "Say toba here and now for wearing a thin sock!" he ordered. [toba: repentance; considered highly humiliating if forced in public.] I could feel the eyes of the crowd boring through my chadari. I was soaking in perspiration and feeling asphyxiated. I had a choice of two species of pain and humiliation: public flogging and public toba. I chose the lesser evil. To this day I relive in my nightmares the public toba of repeating out aloud three time for all to hear, in the middle of a crowd on a public street, that I will never, ever, be so wanton as to wear thin socks again. When will the nightmare end?


    On the July 20 [1997] Taliban forces attacked Takana and Jalrez [some 150 kilometres to the west of Kabul, inhabited mostly by ethnic Hazaras]. The Wahdat forces [a politico-military group composed of Hazaras] retreated into the valleys in their rear but in a surprise counter-attack caught the Taliban off-guard and seized some 70 Taliban fighters alive. They rounded up their hostages, then doused them with petrol and set them on fire alive. When the Taliban got to know of the fate of their comrades they swept down on Hazara villages in the vicinity and carried off some 30-40 Hazara women. These women were repeatedly and systematically raped by Taliban force. A week later Wahdat fighters led by Commander Qambar, known as Qambar the Lame, swept down on villages in the proximity which were inhabited by Pashtoons [the Taliban are predominantly ethnic Pashtoons] and carried away some 40-50 Pashtoon women in revenge. The Pashtoon women were subjected to the same treatment the Hazara women were receiving at the hands of the Taliban. To the filing of this report none of the women have been freed from either side.

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