On Monday August 15, Taliban marked the first anniversary of their return to power in Afghanistan, following a turbulent year that saw women's rights crushed and a humanitarian crisis worsen.

On August 15 last year, the Taliban captured Kabul after their nationwide lightning offensive against government forces ended 20 years of US-led military intervention.

A chaotic withdrawal of foreign forces continued until August 31, with tens of thousands of people rushing to Kabul's airport hoping to be evacuated on any flight out of Afghanistan.

International media reports say for ordinary Afghans – especially women – the return of the Taliban has only increased hardships.

Initially, the Taliban promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterized their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.

However, many restrictions have been imposed on women to comply with the movement's austere vision of Islam.

Tens of thousands of girls have been shut out of secondary schools, while women have been barred from returning to many government jobs.

On Saturday August 13, Taliban fighters beat female protesters and fired into the as they violently dispersed a rare rally in the Afghan capital, days before the first anniversary of the hardline Islamists’ return to power. 

Meanwhile, an article posted on Pajhwok Afghan News’ website on August 15 says the Taliban’s first year in power is seen as a mixed bag.

Political experts reportedly hold conflicting views regarding the challenges facing the interim Afghan government and its achievements in the past year.

For the improvement of the overall situation, they urge the government to win people’s confidence and increase interaction with the international community.

According to Pajhwok Afghan News, political commentator Qazi Mohammad Hassan Haqyar called the withdrawal of foreign troops, regaining of independence, enforcement of nationwide security and peace, as well as the eradication of ethnic, tribal and linguistic rivalries some of the achievements of the government in the past year.

At the same time, Haqyar said the current economic and humanitarian crisis, migration of youth and unemployment were the biggest challenges for the present government.

But Haqyar said current government took positive steps on economic front, paid employees’ salaries despite cut in international assistance, developed budget from national resources and ensured the stability of Afghani.

He noted the closure of girls’ secondary schools, lack of commitment to the freedom of expression and human rights violations were among the factors that gave the international community the reason for criticizing the acting government and caused problems for it.

Tariq Farhadi, another political observer, reportedly described the establishment of relative peace and security in the country as a key achievement of the new government.  He, however, claimed the Taliban had been the reason for insecurity in the past. 

According to Farhadi, despite the fact that the Taliban have a leader, unity has not been seen in their ranks.  “There are a few centers of power in Afghanistan — Mullah Baradar, Haqqani, Muttaqi and Mullah Yaqub — no one listening to the other.  They are pulling in different directions without colliding with one another,” he noted.

Farhadi viewed curbs on the banking system and a decline in international assistance as the cause of the ongoing economic crisis in Afghanistan.

Farhadi said relative peace had been established in the country but Daesh continued to stage attacks and the current government was unable to control them.

But Haqyar, satisfied with the security situation, acknowledged nationwide peace and stability had been restored. There could be no comparison between the current security situation and the environment during Ghani government, he commented.

Haqyar said although the current government had not yet been recognized, some countries had good interaction with the government and it somehow meant recognition.  But he said that the government must strive to expand its relations with the countries of the world. 

But Farhadi believed some countries allowed only the second and third level diplomats of the caretaker government as per their own interests and it did not mean recognition.

According to him, when a country is recognized in the United Nations and occupies its seat in the UN, the world’s body implements all it policies in coordination with the government.