Al Jazeera team visits Taliban-held town of Gereshk

Al Jazeera team visits Taliban-held town of Gereshk

while there has been fighting in lashkar in recent days other parts of the hillman province are firmly under taliban control only 20 kilometers separate the city of kandahar from the strongholds of the taliban we drove past signs of recent battles arriving in the town of grishk the taliban fighter asks us to get out of our car at first sight things here do not look different from the government-controlled areas but then you see the taliban fighters the only ones allowed to use radio handsets our escorts tell us there is no telephone service or internet for security reasons in the town you see taliban flags everywhere shopkeepers say it’s a sign of their allegiance to the movement we noticed a clear change before the villages could not come to the market now they can and the markets are crowded the women can shop and there’s nothing to bother them we spoke to one of the shop’s customers as well before the taliban it was difficult for us to live under the authority of the government now we are free our children feed us and we are safe throughout our visit we were escorted by taliban representatives the older people we spoke to tend to praise the taliban and its role in providing security they welcomed the implementation of islamic law in the very conservative southern afghanistan but away from the camera some young men did not hide the resentment at the absence of telephone and internet services and their fear of a lack of freedom in the future at the district hospital it is business as usual in this world 600 babies were born during last month the period that the taliban has been in control since the arrival of the taliban there has been no change in our plans we were received by the health officials and they told me not to change anything there is a unified health law and we were asked to abide by it at this checkpoint and the points like it the taliban controls things on the ground while litten the afghan government rules the skies and while the taliban says it wants and even seeks peace its fighters say they are ready for all possibilities for now they are conducting policing duties but they know a new battle could be looming we prefer that there be a peaceful solution to the conflict and the current crisis in afghanistan if the government side insists on fighting and does not commit to reconciliation the next step will be to attack the state capitals electricity in the area is provided by this nearby dam built by the soviets and restored by the americans like everything else in this town of seventy thousand people for now it’s run by the taliban al jazeera man province is head of international affairs at afghanistan’s office of the national security council he says taliban fighters are making gains at least in part thanks to support from neighboring pakistan the truth is that the taliban have received men weapons and explosives but also direction from across our southern frontiers which is pakistan that is why they’re able to put up such stiff resistance across the country if you focus on a given sliver of time at any given moment a province may have fallen under the taliban it’s controlled but i think the situation remains completely fluid which means that as we are speaking the afghan national defense and security forces are actually rallying and pushing the taliban out of the province of kunduz similar action is happening in sugarfon and similar action is also happening inside two of the other provinces that you listed as having fallen into the taliban’s hands well we also interviewed suhil shaheen the taliban’s international media spokesman he says they do want peace but government aggression has forced them to fight our response is clear we want a peaceful solution of the upon issue for that we are we waited for them for the last one year but unfortunately you may have uh seen that the head of the kabul administration on the day of eid he announced a military strategy for three months and six months and after that they started bumping cities hospitals clinics schools well the u.s government watchdog for afghanistan is calling the taliban advance an existential crisis for the government his latest report says afghan security forces quotes appeared surprised and unready as foreign forces withdrew the agency has been tracking up to two trillion dollars of u.s taxpayer money spent during the conflict we’re talking about a period of 20 years hundreds of billions have been spent to train and equip afghan security forces which number around 300 000 but experts say that figure is inflated because of corruption and absenteeism and huge stockpiles of weapons have ended up in the hands of the taliban u.n monitors estimate the taliban has 75 000 fighters and has made significant profits from controlling the heroin trade let’s talk now to david disroch he’s professor of national defense university and he served in afghanistan he joins us on skype from washington david good to have your thoughts here on the newshour again if the warlords have been extracted from the equation that was afghanistan say 10 or 20 years ago would what we’re seeing today not be happening i think that’s a good a good question and i think that’s the nub of it so i served in afghanistan 2002 2003 on the civil affairs task force and quite frankly what i saw was a military effort that was focused on kabul with very little done in the provinces and basically the warlords retained a lot of power even while the central government sought to move out there i think part of the reason why the situation looks so bad is that the warlords who really have a lot of the fighting power in these provinces are stepping back waiting for the central government to reach a point of crisis where they empower the individual warlords and then they’ll move in i think that’s probably the case in kunduz uh in sorry pole and in telekom the taliban is clearly playing to its strengths if you will in its heartland in the bits of afghanistan that we’ve associated the taliban with in the context of afghanistan for what more than a generation now but it’s also taking other areas apparently that’s what we’re seeing unfolding almost hour to hour how much of a surprise is that well so it’s not a surprise that lashkar gah and uh is you know kind of under television that’s always been hardcore taliban land when you look at zoranj province uh you know that’s baloo and uh duorani uh pactoons uh the taliban is overwhelmingly a pashtun movement and so areas that have large pashtun populations like kunduz province uh you know you can see them active there but it’s also important to bear in mind the taliban is not as unitary as we think it is everybody who has a beef with the central government in afghanistan calls themselves taliban to get attention and to quite frankly frighten and demoralize their opponents so i think that a lot of this success we’re seeing here for the taliban will be fleeting it will be very hard to sustain basically what they’re doing right now is disrupting and attacking an overextended central government force and i think that once there’s a little bit of a consolidation in a counter attack we’ll see the taliban uh sort of move into its heartlands uh on the pakistan border areas and in the pashtun heartlands does what you’ve just said david therefore partly explained the relationship where it is at the moment between the pakistani taliban and the afghan taliban because my understanding of the pakistani taliban was it was distinctly a different organization under operating under the same name but if the pakistani taliban is giving the afghan taliban either real or tacit support doesn’t that mean that the afghan taliban is in effect opening that border that it controls between afghanistan and pakistan to allow pakistani taliban fighters to cross and to work with the afghan taliban that’s a really good question so uh the amount of pakistani influence in afghanistan is something that you know we’ve never quite put our finger on uh you know there’s there’s clearly uh you know in the early days you saw people coming out of pakistani madrasas fighting in afghanistan and and uh lord knows you know also like exiled uzbek militant organizations things of that nature um i think that uh all things being equal the taliban uh whether they’re afghan or pakistan you know these are people who oppose central government uh in either country and are happy to capitalize off an opportunity um i don’t think that there’s a formal command and control structure i think it’s a transactional relationship and i think that right now uh there’s also uh you know the the ability to seize customs revenues and to seize control of the narcotics trade so there’s a lot of impetus for people to attack the afghan central government right now but i don’t think it’s the basis of a lasting military-like organization afghanistan fell to the taliban in 1996 after 20 years of war and conflict when there was a vacuum a different kind of vacuum but a vacuum all the same are we seeing that happening again well uh let me qualify your your question or to take dispute with it not all of afghanistan felt so the panchiris uh uzbeks tajiks opposed them and uh you know they never had full control of all of it they did have control over all the pashtun regions of uh afghanistan i think what we’re going to see uh my worst case scenario is not this is not the north vietnamese army marching into south vietnam in the 70s this is we’re going to see civil war and i think it will roughly uh be pashtun areas versus other areas that’s the worst case scenario david always so good to get your finessed experience of this complex dense story on the output really good to talk to you thanks so much for joining us here on the newshour david dasrock joining us from washington talk to you soon thank you
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Al Jazeera team visits Taliban-held town of Gereshk

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