caption of the image Fighters in Hairatan
On the with Afghanistan with Uzbekistan, a freight train rolls over a bridge and into the newly created "Islamic Emirate ". The Taliban's white and black flag flies next to the Uzbek flag. Some traders hailed the group's return to power. The driver of a truck loaded with wheat tells me that in the past he was regularly forced to pay bribes to corrupt police officers every time he passed their checkpoints. "Now it 's not like that " he said. "I could drive to Kabul without paying a dime.
It's been exactly a month since the Talibantook control of Afghanistan. Today, liquidity is scarce and the country is facing a growing economic crisis.
A source in the business community tells us that trade levels have dropped dramatically as Afghan importers are not able to pay for new products. The Taliban customs chief at the port of Hairatan, Maulvi Saeed, tells us that the group is reducing tariff rates to promote trade and wants to encourage wealthy traders to return to the country. "It will create jobs for people, and businessmen will be rewarded in the hereafter, " he says.
About an hour's drive away is Mazar- i-Sharif, the fourth largest city in the country. On the surface of life seems to be continuing as usual, although many are suffering financially.
I make my way to the intricately tiled Blue Mosque, the cultural heart of the city. I was here for the last timein August, shortly before the Taliban took power. Back in the day, the grounds were teeming with young men and women posing for selfies.
image caption The Mosque Blue in Mazar-i-Sharif
Now the Taliban have allocated separate visiting hours according to gender: women can venir in the morning, the men the rest of the day. When we visit there are a lot of women walking around but there seems to be a lot less than before. "Everything is fine, but maybe people still need more time to get used to the new government," one woman suggests shyly.
I meet Haji Hekmat, an influential local leader of the Taliban. "You may have provided security, " I told him, "but your detractors say you are killing the culture here.
" No, "he replies emphatically, "Western influences have been there for 20 years… The control of Afghanistan has passed from one foreign hand to another for 40 years, we have lost our own traditions and values. We are bringing our culture back to life.
According to his understanding of Islam, mixing of men and women is prohibited.
image caption Haji Hekmat: "Western influences have been present for 20 years… We are bringing our culture back to life
Haji Hekmat seems genuinely convinced that the Taliban have the support of the people. voice, however, a visitor whispered to a colleague: "These are not good people.
While the Taliban 's interpretation of Islam may be less relevantconflict with the values of those in more rural and socially conservative villages - in large Afghan towns, many remain deeply suspicious of the group. Haji Hekmat attributes this to years of "propaganda ", but a history of suicide bombings and targeted assassinations in urban areas is clearly also responsible.
Leaving the Blue Mosque, we see a large and excited crowd near the main road, and bend our way towards the center. Four corpses with gunshot wounds are on display. One has a small handwritten note above describing the men as kidnappers, warning other criminals that their punishment will be the same.
Despite the smell of bodies under the scorching sun, the crowd takes pictures and tries to overtake themselves to get a better view. Violent crime has long been a major problem in major Afghan cities, and even critics blame the Taliban for improving it.oration of security. A spectator tells us: "If they are kidnappers, it is a good thing. It will be a lesson for the others.
But many others in the city do not feel safe. Law student Farzana tells us: "Every time I leave my home and see the Taliban, I shudder with fear.
Private universities like his are open, but the onesrun by the government remain closed for the time being. Under the new Taliban rule, students studying in the same classroom must be separated by a curtain.
For Farzana, this is not the priority though. She fears the Taliban will not let women work - which the group has denied. At the moment, however, Afghan women are told to stay home for their own safety, unless they are teachers or doctors.
caption of the image Male and university students are separated by a curtain figcaption >
"Right now I'm feeling hopeless, " Farzana says: "but I'm doing my best to stay optimistic for the future.
The last one Once the Taliban were in power, they introduced much more restrictive measures than they have ever done on this occasion, forbidding women to leave the house without a male companion, for example. Much of the fear in Afghan cities today is that similar laws could eventually be introduced again.
While the Taliban firmly control the country, it has yet to win the hearts and minds of many. Haji Hekmat admits: "Conquering thecountry militarily was difficult, implementing the rule of law and protecting it is even more so.
Additional reports by Malik Mudasir and Shams Ahmadzai.
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media caption It There is anger against the Taliban in Kabul, but others in rural areas hail the end of a deadly war