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After 20 years of one of the costliest international missions in recent history - both in terms of lives lost and financial expenditures valued in the trillions - the international community is woefully unprepared for the situation in Afghanistan today. There is considerable reason to fear that the country will revert to the stalemate that characterised Taliban rule in the 1990s. 

Policy announcements by the Taliban, including the all-Talib acting cabinet and the extension of a ban on public secondary school for girls, contravened the reassurances of Talib diplomats and the expectations of external observers. 

Indeed, the internal factionalism pitting hardliners against pragmatists has laid bare the contradictions between the facade of formal government that the Taliban adopted after capturing Kabul, and the informal sources of ultraconservative authority that dominate the movement's decision-making.....