Veteran Afghan journalist says 'nothing changed' from Taliban in the '90s to now

Veteran Afghan journalist says 'nothing changed' from Taliban in the '90s to now
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An Afghan journalist who started reporting on the Taliban before the U.S. war in Afghanistan said in an interview on Thursday that nothing has changed from how the militant group ruled that country in the 1990s to how it is now ruling after the fall of Kabul in August.

Speaking on NPR's "Fresh Air," Najibullah Quraishi said the Taliban is just as oppressive as when it held power before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

"I don't know why they promised ... that they're going to be moderate, but I don't think so," Quraishi told host Terry Gross. "According to what I'm noticing, what I'm witnessing here in Afghanistan, they are the Taliban. There is nothing changed between the Taliban in the '90s and between the Taliban in 2021."

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After taking power in Afghanistan in August, Taliban leaders initially signaled they would be more moderate than in the past, including by saying women would be permitted to work and have an education.

Yet reports since then indicate the Taliban has ordered female workers in Kabul to remain at home. Taliban leaders ordered male students and teachers to return to school, notable leaving women and girls out of this order.

Quraishi is in Kabul, reporting for an upcoming PBS Frontline documentary titled "Taliban Takeover."

According to Quraishi, the Taliban's "vice and virtue" squads are trying to operate "away from the eyes of the media, especially Western media," but have reinstated extreme punishments like whippings, amputations and hangings.

He warned that conditions in Afghanistan are quickly deteriorating, with doctors and medicine in short supply, and that a civil war between the Taliban and the opposition Haqqani network could soon break out.

"They have a big problem between the Taliban and the Haqqani network — the Haqqani network asking for more power and the Taliban thinking they're left behind. So Mullah [Abdul Ghani] Baradar, the main representative of the Taliban, he's gone back to Kandahar, his homeland, his city, and what I hear from some sources is he's trying to make another group," he said.