The world's eyes are focused on what the Taliban will do from here on Image Credit: Gulf News

With the altered balance of power in Afghanistan, focus is firmly back on the ruling Taliban with disturbing reports of targeted killings of former members of Afghan security forces.

In a recent report, the global rights body, Human Rights Watch, said that Taliban forces have summarily executed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former police and intelligence officers in just four provinces since taking over the country on August 15, 2021, despite a proclaimed amnesty.

The disturbing report has prompted an international outcry. The US and several allied countries have now called on the Taliban to end the targeted killings. In a joint statement, 22 nations have demanded that Taliban must abide by and respect its pledge not to harm former government personnel.

Summary killings and enforced disappearances

The statement was issued by the US and signed by major powers like the UK, European Union and a further 19 countries. Outlining their deep concerns over the killings, the international community has called on all cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to be fully investigated. “We are deeply concerned by reports of summary killings and enforced disappearances”, the statement reads.

As per Human Rights Watch, Taliban leaders have directed surrendering security forces to register with authorities to be screened for ties to certain military or special forces units, and to receive a letter guaranteeing their safety.

“However, the Taliban have used these screenings to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear individuals within days of their registration, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find,” the rights body noted.

The global community is still trying to figure out how to deal with the new ruling dispensation in Kabul. Earlier this week, the US held a second round of discussions with Taliban since its exit from Afghanistan.

Dire economic situation

While the group has been consolidating gains, the government in Kabul is faced with a double whammy: global ostracisation and the onset of harsh winter. Given the country’s dire economic situation, 23 million people, more than half of the population, would need food support in the weeks and months ahead.

The Taliban have given pledges and promises of a stable and secure environment. It is now incumbent upon its rulers to follow through on their words and stop wanton arrest and execution of their former political foes.

The country’s 40 million population do not deserve a life of instability. Whatever progress and freedoms the Afghans have earned over the last 20 years must be respected at all costs.