Taliban arrest popular professor known for criticism of successive Afghan governments

The Taliban have arrested a popular university professor and outspoken critic of successive Afghan governments, including the new rulers in Kabul, the group’s spokesman said on Sunday.

Zabihullah Mujahid said in a tweet that Professor Faizuallah Jalal is being held by the Taliban’s intelligence service. The group accused the professor of “nonsensical statements on social media that provoke people against the government and play with the dignity of the people”.

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan last August before the US departed in chaos on August 31, after nearly 20 years of war. The Islamic militant guerrillas who became rulers previously held power from 1996 to 2001.

In an early Sunday tweet, Jalal’s daughter Hasina Jalal pleaded for her father’s release. “How I confirm the disturbing news. I ask for the immediate release of my father, Professor Faizuallah Jalal, ”she tweeted

Afghanistan is facing a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. The United Nations has warned that 90 percent of the country’s 38 million people are in dire need. The arrest of a prominent human rights activist would certainly make humanitarian aid difficult.

It also heightened fears that the Taliban would impose the same harsh and repressive rule as their last term, before being ousted by a US-led coalition for hosting Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

TOLO TV, Afghanistan’s largest broadcaster, on which Faizuallah Jalal was a frequent commentator, tweeted that Jalal was “allegedly arrested on allegations against government agencies,” a security source said.

There was no official government response to inquiries about Jalal’s arrest.

Jalal is the husband of one of the country’s first female presidential candidates, Masooda Jalal, who ran against former President Hamid Karzai in 2004.

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