In the villages that once bore the brunt of Afghanistan’s front-line fighting, the Taliban victory has broken a cycle of air attacks, gun battles and funerals. The group’s takeover of Kabul and the sudden collapse in August of the United States-backed government shocked the world and upended the freedoms of Afghans, which were particularly enjoyed by the urban middle class.

But away from main cities, where little of the international aid worth billions of dollars ever reached, many believe the Taliban’s rule could bring a stop to the fighting and the hope for an end to corruption.

“I would give everything for the Taliban,” said 72-year-old Maky as she prepared cotton fibre in her hardened hands with a group of other women in Dashtan, a remote farming settlement in northern Balkh province.

“Now there is no sound of shooting. The war is over and we are happy with the Taliban.” A US-led invasion removed the Taliban in 2001, which led to 20 years of military occupation by NATO forces. A democratic government was restored, women were once again allowed to work and study, and a vocal civil society was rebuilt.

Continue…