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taliban: Kabul gamers fret over favourite pastime with Taliban back in power


KABUL: The Smile net club, a gaming cafe downtown Kabul, used to be a haven for young people in the city: an escape from the daily grind in a country where decades of war and economic unrest have clouded its prospects.
Now with Afghanistan back under the control of the Taliban, which banned most forms of entertainment during his previous rule from 1996 to 2001, some fear the games could be eliminated.
“Unemployment has risen a lot in recent weeks … and we come here to play,” said the student. Ahmad shoieb, sitting between the plush sofas and the big TV screens with soccer and fighting games.
“What will we do if they close the game cafe?”
The Islamist movement has struggled to show a more conciliatory face to the world since it came to power on August 15, but uncertainty remains about how it will rule.
He has said that cultural activities will be allowed as long as they do not go against the sharia and Islamic culture of Afghanistan.
The last time they ruled Afghanistan, the Taliban banned television, most commercial music and video games, and imposed severe public punishments on those who broke their rules.
The owner of the cafe, Ahmad Jawad, said that many of his regulars had been afraid to return, fearing that the Taliban would raid the cafe and arrest or even whip the customers.
“Because of this, people’s interest in gaming cafes has decreased a lot and we have all suffered,” said Jawad.
He added that he had invested heavily in coffee, the only source of income for his family, and might have a hard time finding other jobs if he had to close.

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