Legitimizing the Taliban

3 01 2012

“American officials have said in recent months that the opening of a Taliban mission would be the single biggest step forward for peace efforts that have been plagued by false starts.”  This is a quote in today’s New York Times in an article entitled, “Taliban to Open Qatar Office in Step to Formal Talks.”  Pundits are viewing this as a prime opportunity and venue to hold “peace talks” with the Afghan Taliban.  However, I see something different:  (1) the post-9/11 war effort that toppled the Taliban from power, ten years later, only seems to revert back to negotiations with the very same enemy to share power after the US / ISAF pull-out in 2014; and (2) this “mission” is a means for backdoor legitimacy for the Taliban (although we know that they are not one monolithic entity – the top echelons under Mullah Omar will likely benefit most).

This is a very dangerous precedent, because it symbolizes what I call the calcification of the mind.  The Taliban are the enemies of knowledge.  Their empowerment, or return to empowerment, even if it’s limited, does not bode well for the future of Afghanistan, which, in my view, will fall back to square one.  No doubt, some Taliban are already congratulating themselves for their “victory” in gaining even an ounce of legitimacy, just by virtue of being recognized as an entity with which presumably peace talks can happen.  Once again, no one is thinking about the ideological and developmental disaster this portends for the Af-Pak region.

Consider this:  In Quil Lawrence’s NPR report (September 8, 2011), he interviewed a member of the Afghan Parliament who was also in the Northern Alliance, now a school principal.  Here is what Jaleb Mubin Zarifi, an ethnic Tajik, said in the interview:  “Democracy is un-Islamic,” and he praised the laws of the Taliban, saying, “The laws that they [Taliban] implemented – a good example, for instance, is about women – they asked all women to wear hijab (headscarf), and that’s a good thing.  And we know now that the women are not wearing hijab, and look what’s happening:  there’s cancer and AIDS everywhere now in Afghanistan.”  This was a Northern Alliance guy, not even Taliban.  Add the Taliban into the mix, and brace for the 21st century Inquisition.  Militant ideologies will have a field day.

This is not to say that a viable resolution should not be pursued in Afghanistan.  However, this rush to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, and even opening a mission office for them in Qatar smacks of desperation to plug all the holes before pulling out of Afghanistan, out of fear that President Karzai’s house of cards might collapse, perhaps from the force of Taliban laughter in the wind.

NOTE:  Everything I write in this blog constitutes my personal opinions and views.