With tough tactics and promises of security, it aims to position
itself as a stronger brand of government.
Rahmatullah Sorkhrodi looks out of his TV repair shop through the
few shards of glass left hanging in the window frame. Little more
than month ago, a bomb detonated in a music and video store across
the street, blowing out windows in his and other surrounding stores.
The Taliban prohibit music and videos, and the shop near Mr.
Sorkhrodi is just one of several that have been attacked recently in
For Sorkhrodi, who can't afford to fix the window, it's a
reminder of what many people fear is the growing influence of the
Taliban here. "Now everyone is scared that it is getting worse.
Maybe they will use more suicide attacks."
While reported talks between the Afghan government and members of
the Taliban have grabbed headlines, there are numerous indications
throughout Afghanistan that the Taliban are doing anything but
hanging up their guns.
Indeed, as the Afghan government suffers under its reputation for
corruption, the Taliban appear to be using that to garner increasing
support for their movement. Consequently, regions like Nangarhar
Province that have traditionally had a limited Taliban presence may
be more at risk.
"Generally the current government cannot solve all the problems
in Nangarhar, because the problems don't just belong to this
province," says Muhammad Hassan Haqyar, a political analyst based in
Kabul. Because of that, he says, it appears the Taliban are trying
to take advantage of that and work to establish themselves as a
legitimate governing body.
The Taliban are conducting civil court proceedings in areas
outside government control. This October in the restive Wardak
Province, for example, Taliban officials publicly executed a man
accused of murder. In Kapisa Province, north of Kabul, they've
recently won favor by putting a cap on dowries men must pay to get
married, which can reach up to $20,000, a daunting fee for most
It is amid this backdrop that Nangarhar Province has begun to see
a spike in Taliban activity. As the owner of one of the few
remaining music and video shops in Jalalabad, Watan Pashaie should
be opposed to the Taliban for business reasons, but under the right
conditions he says he'd support them.
"There is fraud and corruption inside the government. If you
don't pay the police, they won't protect you," he says. "We hope
that one day the government will be strong enough, but if not, we
will join with the Taliban."
The Taliban have increased their efforts - largely seen by
experts as propaganda - to present themselves as an effective
alternative to the government and as more open-minded than many
Afghans remember. …