Is the modern world ready to deal with the Taliban government of Afghanistan on the basis of “as is where is”? On the face of it, the world does not seem to be unified on the question before them. The USA has not made public the details of the Doha agreement with the Taliban. This is not a good sign for others.
It looks as if the superpowers are carrying out their negotiations in complete secrecy or have decided to develop a format to strike bilateral deals with the Taliban. The stand of China is clear. To some extent even Russian stand is clear. France has not yet spoken. Other European nations have maintained enigmatic silence. Everyone seems to be watching its national interests rather than global peace or security or collective counter terrorism strategy. Without a unified strategy and action plan it will be difficult to contain the Taliban or terrorism. Terrorism has to end and Taliban have to change to be one with the modern society so as to live in peace and harmony. That attitude and approach alone is a guarantee for a peaceful world.
Afghanistan faces more than one challenge presently. Many are intra Afghanistan and more are international. The world is prepared to welcome a reformed Taliban as a government and society, but the terrorist organisations want a deadlier Taliban. If the Taliban decide to ignore those terrorist organisations, they will create a terrible law and order situation in Taliban akin to what the Taliban stood for before capturing Kabul. The biggest of all the challenges the Taliban face is religious. It has to show radical flexibility in religious matters which is elusive so long it goes for imposition of Sharia law alone without being accommodative, inclusive and secular. The Taliban cannot impose the medieval practices in religious matters like killing the innocent people wantonly like flies or destroying cities, houses, universities, libraries, massacres, arson etc. The practice of rewarding the soldiers if each one brought two human heads in territories raided by the aggressor can’t be allowed by the modern world. Yet, terrorism survives on the element of surprise; that is, doing the most unthinkable. The 9/11 episode was not even thinkable to the mighty Americans. Till it actually happened, the US considered terrorism a small but local problem emanating from sectarian or territorial disputes or insurgency or rebellion. News agencies in the western countries showed utmost contempt for the victims of violence, often blaming governments or terming all such savage incidents as fight for freedom. Insurgents for them were “freedom fighters”. They refused to understand the meaning of non-violence for the simple reason they neither believed in something called non-violence nor ever practiced it, though they had the example of Mahatma Gandhi before them. They all seemed to adopt the Churchillian contemptuous description of the Mahatma as the “naked fakir”. Till the Arab Spring shook them out of their stupor, they believed only in the power of the guns. Ultimately, guns failed them, as they learnt very late and at a very high cost. The Taliban would only be committing the same costly mistake if they fail to change and put value in non-violence over violence which they have indulged in for more than 25 years by now.
Religion, Mao famously said, is the opium of the masses. The Taliban must re-set its goals on imposition of Sharia law. Many practices in the name of religious sanctions are only products of the minds of those ruling the religious order. They are often partisan and anti-people. They deprive the people of their fundamental rights such as life, liberty, equality and justice. God is kind to everybody without discrimination of any kind: religion, race, gender, place of birth or language. How can humans interfere with the Divine Order? To do so, is immoral, unfair, unjust, unlawful, discriminatory and unconstitutional. It applies to the Taliban as the rest of mankind.
The Taliban will affect human attitude to refugees migrating to other countries for their life and/or livelihood. The world will look with suspicion on the hungry people crying for food. Humanitarian assistance will slow down to negligible levels in deserving cases too. It is more than one region afflicting people with shortage of food or medicine or other bare essentials for day to day living. Instead of sensitizing people to help the needy, it will de-sensitize them to genuine needs for humanitarian assistance as in Afghanistan now. This even the Sharia does not permit. All religions teach humanism to its followers and prepare them mentally to volunteer assistance to the needy to the extent possible. Terrorism controlled areas do not permit even the UN Agencies reaching assistance to the needy. Even medical aid is not allowed to reach the target population. Such societies remain trapped in medieval mindset and indulge in a kind of self-harm.
The international community shall remain divided on humanitarian assistance to the Afghans. While some nations would like to reach humanitarian assistance, others might be wary of the Taliban, angry and hesitate to help them. The Taliban have divided the world community but are united in their resolve, come what may. They face violent challenge presently only from the IS operatives who have carried out a few bomb blasts in Kabul and other places.
If that situation comes to prevail in Afghanistan, mankind will have to choose between violence or non-violence. The choice will determine whether modernity survives the onslaught of terrorism or slips back to medieval times itself. It will throw up before the international community a hard choice whether inhuman acts of terrorism and barbarism will be allowed to defeat humanity, humaneness and humanitarianism. It is not a battle of nerves but values. The Taliban do not and shall never decide for the modern age how the people should live, think, speak or dress. The medieval ideas of rulership are dead in the modern society and even the Taliban will have to learn the value of serving the people. They only delay the process. It may be too late for them.