This is an article I had written in 2005, just before the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan. The article critiques President Karzai’s decision to include the Taliban in the democratic process.
When the Taliban government was just toppled, president Karzai offered the ‘moderate’ Taliban an amnesty opportunity saying that those reputed as ‘less fundamental’ would be inducted into the democratic process. This ‘amnesty program’ was in spite of the fact that for most Afghans, a Taliban is simply a Taliban; there is no difference between the less and more fundamentalist ones.
This offer is, apparently, an effort to discourage the increasing fears of guerilla warfare from the Taliban. Weeks have passed now and there is no decline in the Taliban’s destructive activism meaning the incentives are of no use. Bomb blasts, target killings, public intimidations, abduction and subsequent execution of aid workers and journalists etc not only continued, but also intensified.
More importantly, this offer provided the Taliban a morale boost instead. The Taliban spokesman, Mufti Lotfullah Hakimi, in an interview with NewsWeek said, “Mullah Omar has never been more active…anyone who thinks he’s isolated, hiding in a cave and fearing for his life couldn’t be more wrong.”
The Taliban continue their activities with signs of renewed fervor establishing a radio station; strengthening their smuggling network against efforts of smuggling eradication; manipulating public sentiments to their purposes, etc. Hence, a begging Karzai who repeatedly asks for more troops from the international community.
Baffling, though, is Karzai’s contradictory press statements. After October’s first-ever ‘democratic’ elections, the world witnessed him saying, “…the Taliban don’t have a place among the people.” But it seems that the Taliban do have a place, if not among the people; as, president Karzai, despite his blues, seems to be more than determined to reintegrate them into the political process. He has reassured them that the moderates, along with the extremists would not only be granted amnesty, but would also be allowed to come into the political process, simply because they are his ‘Afghan brothers’.
That’s a real bargain, and making use of it are five of Karzai’s hardcore ex-Taliban ‘Afghan brothers’ who have vowed they would participate in the coming parliamentary elections. Some of them already occupy government posts. Thanks to Karzai’s fraternal attitude.
The Afghans have not yet forgotten the notorious days of Taliban rule and they are not ready to forgive them just as yet. They don’t want their first go at parliamentary elections in the 86 years of their independence to be a battle to keep their worst nightmare—the Taliban—out of the political frame. Hence, Karzai’s pro-Taliban policy seems to have no public support at all and he has, seemingly, miscalculated things. His reintegration efforts have become show-through and showing through the niches, are his pro-Pashtoon policies.
Public support, however, is of mere significance. And as far as their entry in the parliament is concerned, come election time, all the Taliban members need is a shave and they’re in—overnight; President Karzai guarantees it!
Some of Talibans’ Atrocities:
- US Department of State–Al-Qaeda and Taliban Atrocities
- Humanity Denied: Systematic Violations of Women’s Rights in Afghanistan
- Human Rights Watch World Report 2002: Asia: Afghanistan
- Massacre of Hazaras in Bamiyan
- Massacre of Hazaras in Yakaolang and Robatak Pass, 2001
Background information about the Taliban and Afghanistan:
- Who are the Taliban?
- Afghanistan’s future
- Peacetime Kabul Has Its Rich and Poor
- Afghanistan: After four years and $4 billion
- Afghans glimpse a normal life
- One small step
References:  Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, Last Days of the Taliban?