Abdul Rahim Saqib
The Taliban has complete control over Afghanistan right now. The US and its allies fought against the movement for the last 20 years and tried hard to root it out. They spent more than two trillion dollars and more than 3,000 foreign soldiers lost their lives.
In spite of all this war effort, the Taliban are ruling Afghanistan once again.
The Taliban was victorious not because of its military might, economic strength and technical expertise but because of the religious and social weight that it has in Afghan society. Former President Ashraf Ghani and his allies did not enjoy such popular support, which is why their government collapsed within days of the Taliban offensive pushing closer to Kabul, despite the fact that the US government and the international community backed them.
On February 29, 2020, after the signing ceremony of the peace agreement between the Taliban and the US government, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remarked: “A comprehensive, inclusive, durable peace can only be secured by the Afghan people themselves.”
The US government and the international community have no option but to engage with the Taliban as it leads the effort to build peace and stability in Afghanistan. The fighting is over in Afghanistan and it is time for the Afghans to rebuild their devastated country. But they need help.
If the international community really wants Afghans to live a prosperous life and to have a developed country, then they should continue providing financial aid and assistance to the Taliban government as they did to Ghani’s.
It should be clear by now that the Taliban today is very different from the Taliban of 1996-2001. In the 1990s, TV channels were banned and women were not allowed to work. By contrast, after the arrival of the Taliban in Kabul, media outlets continue to operate. The Taliban has reactivated the Radio Television of Afghanistan (RTA) and women are able to work as journalists; they are even conducting interviews with the Taliban leaders.
Schools, universities and other education centres are open for both male and female students, teachers and lecturers. Some NGOs that were working in Kabul in the past are carrying out their daily activities as before.
All government employees have been asked to return to work. There is no threat posed to anyone that would compel residents of Kabul to flee to other countries. The only incident that took place after the arrival of the Taliban to Kabul was the suicide attack carried out by the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) at Kabul airport, which caused many casualties. The attack, however, was directly linked to the mismanagement of evacuations by US soldiers at the Kabul international airport.
In fact, it was with the goal of securing the Afghan capital that the Taliban entered on August 15. When former President Ghani decided to flee Kabul – a reflection of his lack of popular legitimacy – chaos erupted in the city. This necessitated the Taliban’s intervention to prevent insecurity and instability from wreaking havoc.
Since then, the situation has been under control and stable; there is nothing that should cause fear among Kabul residents. The Taliban has also provided proper protection to the embassies of China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and other countries.
Afghans should not seek to leave the country and the US and other countries should not encourage them to do so. The reason is clear: These Afghans are part of the well-educated strata of the society and their experience and abilities are very much needed for Afghanistan’s future development.
It is also worth highlighting that senior officials of previous governments who decided to stay, including former President Hamid Karzai, former Vice President Abdullah Abdullah, Senate Chairman Fazal Hadi Muslimyar and others, are living in peace. The Taliban treated them in a very respectful manner, which has also been reflected in national and international media outlets.
Afghanistan has been suffering from conflict for the last four decades, which has created a war mentality among Afghans. Therefore, whenever one side gets the upper hand, the other side is worried about being targeted for revenge. However, the Taliban has decided to put an end to this violent cycle by announcing amnesty to all their enemies in Afghanistan.
One of the greatest examples of this amnesty was demonstrated on August 18, when Taliban official Annas Haqqani went to Muslimyar’s house to meet him. Haqqani hugged him in a brotherly manner, despite the fact that Muslimyar had previously called for his execution.
Afghans are peaceful people and they have the courage of defending their country and religion. Though the Afghans fought three superpowers in the last three centuries, they have never attacked others. They only fought to defend their own country, which is their legitimate and legal right.
For the first time in the past four decades, Afghanistan has come under a united leadership. Afghans have suffered a lot in the last four decades. Now it is the time to cure the wounds and solve the urgent problems of the nations. As a member of the international community, Afghanistan needs international assistance.
Now it is the time for the US government and the international community to interact with the Taliban in a peaceful and diplomatic way. This will not only pave the way for both sides to have friendly relations but will also allow the world to experience the friendship of the Taliban, which will have a positive outcome.
If the international community ignores Afghans, they will remain in isolation. Such isolation will have bad consequences, which will not be in anyone’s interest. The international community should engage with and help the Afghan Taliban.