EDITORIAL: The Taliban takeover of Kabul in a peaceful manner did give birth to a legitimate hope of peace in this landlocked country of the world. Then there was also a package of commitments by the Taliban leadership as it announced the interim cabinet - it promised to put in place an inclusive governance setup, protect rights of women and promote ethno-religious ambience all through Afghanistan. Unfortunately, however, it increasingly appears that it was a false dawn. Within weeks the Taliban were going back on almost all that they had promised, clearly suggesting that Taliban 2.0 of 2021 are no different from their predecessors who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Of course they did include a few unknown figures from the non-Pushtun segments of population in the second tier of interim government, but the kind of inclusivity that the world has expected from them is unfortunately nowhere in sight. Naturally, the response of the international community to Taliban's approach to rule is quite matching; it has withheld recognition of the new Afghan government. "Act as you [Taliban] promised," Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov has told the Taliban leadership, adding that "and if you don't, there would no recognition". These remarks that the top Russian diplomat made at the UN General Assembly appear to be a strong reflection of the effect that Taliban's assumption of power is having on the thinking and behaviour of the world community in relation to Afghanistan.
The new rulers in Kabul are, therefore, required to rethink their mindset on their unmet promises. Yes, they did win on the battlefront, but they have yet to win the war of hunger and disease that lurks on the horizon. Thanks to the corrupt Ashraf Ghani government and the mindless patronage provided to it by the United States and other NATO states, Afghanistan today is teetering on the brink of a catastrophe. As the generous supporters of the previous government are nowhere in sight and the weather has been consistently hostile, the Afghans are in for severe food shortages. And even as foreign governments and humanitarian agencies are ready to help and save life in Afghanistan, there is nothing much in the hands of Taliban leadership to efficiently run the administration. The only option available to the Taliban leaders is to jettison their past and accept the ground realities of today. History is replete with examples when the winners of wars did not chalk out their future rooted in their past; they moved forward without looking back. This is perhaps the only way through which the Taliban can convert their war victory into a peaceful Afghanistan. When Nelson Mandela was set free after many years of illegal incarceration ordered by the White regime he didn't go back to the battlefront; he shook hands with his enemies and thus ushered in a progressive future for his own people. Germans and French fought two wars and then shook hands which brought peace and prosperity to Europe. Vietnam is now US' one of the key business partners and political allies after old enemies became friends. A pariah Afghanistan, as it tends to be in the absence of its international recognition, is likely to be fertile land for terrorist and extremist groups. In other words, Taliban leadership is doing no good to their people by going back on promises they made to the international community. They must start to be more realistic and aware of what is happening around them.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021