Distinguished Professor Ali Riaz has published a commentary on the Taliban victory in Afghanistan titled Three Concerns about Taliban 2.0. Riaz notes that some analysts have expressed optimism that the Taliban have transformed in the past 20 years, and the country won’t be retuning to 1990s when Taliban imposed harsh rule. However, others remain skeptical about the Taliban’s change of heart.

Riaz writes the concerns about the future of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan can be broadly divided into three strands. First, the nature of governance to be introduced within the country. Second, whether Afghanistan will become a safe haven for international terrorist groups. Third, whether Afghanistan will emerge as a threat to regional peace and stability.

As for the emergence of Afghanistan as a safe haven for transnational terrorist groups, Riaz writes that Taliban support is not necessary for these organizations to flourish. Such organizations can emerge without state support. There is no guarantee that the Islamic State or al-Qaeda will not build their bases, taking advantage of a chaotic situation and finding ungoverned spaces.

Riaz underscores that the Taliban victory will serve as a source of inspiration to militant organizations in various countries. However, he cautions that authoritarian governments in South and Central Asia may use the manufactured threat of terrorism to justify the persecution of opponents and silencing of contrarian voices.