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EDITORIAL: Everything changes, and so have the Afghan Taliban. The 20-year drubbing that they received since the fall of their government in 2001 must have apprised them of the difference between an ideological narrative and harsh ground realities. Therefore, if we find Kabul beginning to move towards regaining its normality hours after its fall to the Taliban, it is only because the new crop of Taliban leadership has come to know that politics is art of the possible. They also know that even when they fought the world's most powerful war machine and defeated it, they were not sure that their battle victories would win them even de facto recognition both at home and abroad. With that in mind the Taliban spokesperson in his first press encounter in Kabul literally promised what was not expected of him, forcefully dispelling the long lingering impression about the Taliban's brutal treatment of people whose lifestyle and political thinking did not fit in the ideological narrative of the Mulla Omar-led government. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid announced a number of steps that tend to cast the expected Taliban dispensation in the mould of an all-inclusive government that wants to bury the contentious past and move forward. It is also heartening to note that the Taliban have declared that they would not seek revenge against those who worked with the former administration or with foreign officials and forces. "We assure you that nobody will go to their doors to ask why they helped. The war is over," according to the Taliban spokesperson. He also promised the Taliban would honour women's rights "within the norms of Islamic laws". It is also important to note that within hours of his presser a private television woman journalist, yes woman, interviewed a Taliban official. Mujahid was assertive that the Taliban administration would not allow any group or state to use their country's soil against any other country. How will it work out? We in Pakistan, which comes under regular attacks launched from the bordering Afghanistan soil, will know soon.

Having spelt out their forgive-and-forget-past line of action the Taliban would wait to receive international recognition - being mindful that their first spell of power was recognised only by Pakistan and two Arab states. Of course by now they have received some goodwill messages but not recognition. As of now NATO countries that fought the Taliban and lost many precious lives are more concerned about how their protégé in Kabul lost; and they have decided to evolve a united stance on the question of recognition. The same appears to be the case of Pakistan. While it has welcomed the "peaceful transition", it is in "the process of consulting with other countries, including Turkey and China". "We will take a decision after full consultation with regional and international powers," said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry after a cabinet meeting. It is quite clear that Pakistan doesn't want to be out of step with other countries. Any haste will unnecessarily earn Pakistan the charge or accusation of duplicity. There is, therefore, no need for excessive speed or urgency of movement or action.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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