On August 15, 2021, the world looked on with trepidation as the situation in Afghanistan reached a critical juncture with the Afghan Taliban assuming power in the country. The takeover was swift, and relatively peaceful, with little resistance from the masses, followed by the abrupt withdrawal of US forces, leading to a new set of debates and questions. Was this the same Taliban or a different version? What was to be the future of Afghanistan’s women? What would be the fate of political opponents who had been seen as advocates of foreign occupation? The answers remain unclear almost a year later. There was little doubt about a Taliban revival with the US exit and in the absence of a negotiated settlement. In fact, a military takeover by the group was almost expected. But the manner and speed with which Afghanistan fell to the Taliban was shocking and unprecedented.
Afghanistan is currently going through one of its most important and critical phases, even when one considers the violence and instability of the last two decades. Since the Taliban’s assumption of power, the situation inside Afghanistan resulted in unaddressed questions regarding changes in domestic governance, political freedoms, human rights and especially women’s rights, counterterrorism assurances, and the overall commitment to regional peace and stability.