After 20 years of devastating war, Afghans in cities far from the capital Kabul are finding relief and fearing what awaits them under the Taliban.
The victory of the harsh Islamist group and the massive surrender of government forces have killed tens of thousands and left millions homeless since 2001.
“People are very happy. There will be no corruption, there will probably be no bombing,” a journalist from the southern city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province told AFP.
But whether women can work, be educated at all levels and meet men are very critical questions.
The principal of the school in the northeastern city of Kunduz, the Taliban have traditionally been less influential, saying the group allows girls of all ages to be educated at AFP, but with a strict separation.
“The Taliban say there is no problem if women teach girls,” he said via WhatsApp.
“Women teachers can go to school, but they can’t work with men.”
In another decade, the Taliban have said they are not allowed to sing or sing.
But in health markets and clinics, women are still seen without men, he said.
The Taliban they spoke of did not say whether the new regulations came from above or were implemented locally.
The militants promised a different regime from their brutal regime in the 1990s, which restricted women to their homes, banned much entertainment and imposed punishments, including stoning and public executions.
They pledged to respect the progress made in women’s rights, but only in accordance with their strict interpretation of Islamic law.
Taliban rebranding is viewed with skepticism, with experts questioning whether maintaining international recognition and key assistance is a short-term offer.
Wearing a burqa with fear
A midwife working for a foreign NGO in Lashkar Gah said she was told to stay home until further clarification from the Taliban.
“I’m not very happy because I need money,” she says.
The Taliban have not yet formed a government and there is room for controversy over how to assert their authority in the newly occupied territories.
An employee of Lashkar Gah University, who said many of his female colleagues also attended work this week, met with Taliban officials after being asked about the courses for the next semester.
“It’s new to them. They’re just villagers,” he told AFP via WhatsApp.
Some women in the city, out of fear, have resumed the all-encompassing burqa – which is already common in the deep traditional southern region, he noted this week.
However, when he went to the hairdresser for a haircut this week, he explained how the terrorists who once arrested men for not being able to grow a beard did not intervene.
In the cosmopolitan city of Herat, just 150 kilometers from the border with Iran, under the influence of Persian culture, men and women used to walk together in night parks.
A local university employee, worried about her professional future, said she now has to work without men and is worried about receiving a salary.
In Kandahar, the second largest city in Afghanistan – the first Taliban-run capital – the owner of a trendy cafe has opened its headquarters.
“The Taliban have not created any problems so far,” he said.
But customers don’t come anymore.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was automatically created from a syndicated stream.)