The Taliban is regaining significant ground in Afghanistan, running a harsh but effective parallel government that wields more power than the official administration, reports the Observer. Taliban influence has spread as far as the outskirts of Kabul, and is firmly entrenched in large parts of the south and east.
Villagers are turning to the Taliban to settle civil and criminal disputes. “I can't blame them,” said a local judge. “A court case in the government system takes five years and many bribes. The Taliban will settle it in an afternoon.” Taliban rulers are reportedly enforcing their strict moral code in some areas, while policing standard criminal behavior in others.