On Monday, the Taliban commemorated a year since they overran Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. This quick conquest resulted in the fast flight of the government’s Western-backed officials, a collapse of the economy, and a fundamental transformation of the nation.
Bearded Taliban fighters, some hoisting rifles or the white banners of their movement, staged small victory parades on foot, bicycles and motor cycles in the streets of the capital. One small group marched past the former U.S. Embassy, chanting “Long live Islam” and “Death to America.”
A year after the momentous day, Afghanistan has seen significant change. The erstwhile rebels face governance challenges and continue to be marginalized globally. As international help dwindled to a trickle, the economic collapse has plunged millions more Afghans into poverty and even famine.
Meanwhile, despite earlier assurances to the contrary, hardliners appear to be in control of the Taliban-led administration, which put severe limits on access to school and employment for girls and women. Teenage females are still not allowed to attend school, and women must cover their whole bodies in public, exposing only their eyes.
Underground classrooms in homes have emerged as some people look for solutions to prevent a generation of young women’s education from deteriorating.
Schoolyards stood empty Monday as the Taliban announced a public holiday to mark the day, which they refer to as “The Proud Day of Aug. 15” and the “First Anniversary of the Return to Power.”
“Reliance on God and the support of the people brought this great victory and freedom to the country,” wrote Abdul Wahid Rayan, the head of the Taliban-run Bakhtar News Agency.
“Today, Aug. 15, marks the victory of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan against America and its allies occupation of Afghanistan.”