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Trusting Taliban Is Dicey, But Do We Have Choice?

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Kolkata: Trust cannot be demanded, but earned. No amount of coercion or pretension can win one’s belief in you. Now, let’s not beat about the bush – can we trust the Taliban?

Tough one to decipher because despite the insurgent group’s concerted attempt to depict a moderate and liberal image, the ground reality runs contrary and it only augments the angst in world powers especially Afghanistan’s neighbours. Take these:

The Taliban are vehemently against the co-ed system of education

There is a hunt for Afghans who sided with foreign powers

Former President Hamid Karzai and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah who were in talks with the Islamic group over government formation, are both under house detention

Reports state the Taliban rulers have made a list of female sex workers who if nabbed would be meted out the harshest of punishments

Women have taken to streets to demand a role in governance

From India’s point of view, Taliban’s solidarity with Muslims all over the world including in Kashmir keeps South Block on tenterhooks.

Do the above-mentioned facts lend credence to the ushering in an era of libertarian system in Afghanistan? It’s a stern no, because the Taliban may be gauging waters now, but it is unlikely they would dismantle their authoritarian and fanatic ideology and adopt pragmatism.

As of now, the powerful West seems to be in a bewildered state of mind – the whimsical Taliban are only adding to the air of precariousness. And with China’s overt overtures to the Taliban much to the delight of Beijing’s stooge Pakistan, the geo-political dimensions are heading towards a cobweb of instability.

So, what is the way out? There is no other option than engaging with the Taliban but with caution. Ruffling their feathers can only widen the distance which could be antithetical to peace in the region. Taliban have China’s support and it’s a quid pro quo equation – the hardliners need China’s backing to keep USA and NATO powers at bay, while the Communist nation has economic interests at stake in the embattled country. So, mutual benefit comes into play here.

Acrimony on the part of India and the rest would only bolster the China-Taliban nexus with a weak-kneed Islamabad reaping advantage. ISIS and Taliban may be at loggerheads as of now, but religious affiliation could turn acrimony into camaraderie, if needled.

We deserted Afghans when they needed us the most leaving them at the mercy of a totalitarian regime. Now, it’s time to keep the Taliban in good humour or else thousands of lives would hang in the balance. As the extremist group gears up to form a government, the world would be watching with bated breath and praying for a considerate and empathetic administration.

Going back to the salient question whether Taliban can be counted upon or not, the reply is limpid – FINGERS CROSSED – we are left with no other option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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