Taliban 2.0: Difficult conundrum for the experts | By Dr Farah Naz

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Taliban 2.0: Difficult conundrum for the experts


ANTONIO Guterres, the UN Secretary General, said that the Taliban 2.0 government cooperated with the UN aid agencies and granted access to the areas requested and provided security when needed.

But the western countries are still doubtful and wish to measure the performance of Taliban 2.0 with a rigid yardstick. At one point the UN admires them while on the other point the West criticises them for almost everything they do/offer.

This scenario becomes the most difficult conundrum for the experts to examine the changing nature/attitude of Taliban 2.0 towards governance, women empowerment, diplomacy, media representation etc.

To understand this imbroglio it is important to draw a comparison between Taliban 1.0 and Taliban 2.0 to analyse what are the new tactics, governance tools and strategies of the Taliban 2.0. that may or may not make them different from the earlier version.

When it comes to governance, the Taliban 1.0 were highly immature and untrained. They were fresh graduates from Madaris with little to no exposure to world affairs.

They were trained on extreme lines under the leadership of CIA specialised trainers to eliminate the Soviet Union forces from Afghanistan.

Their tools were the use of force, torture, killing, bloodshed, bombing, suicide attempts etc. Their interaction was limited to Madaris or their training camps.

On the other side, Taliban 2.0 were not tasked to defeat any state or group but mutually worked towards the liberation of their motherland from the foreign occupation. They are educated mostly in western countries and know basic skills to engage politically and diplomatically.

They have had diplomatic discussions and negotiations with the world superpower like any other sovereign state at Doha 2020 and 2021 to get their share in politics. This is not what the Taliban 1.0 were able to experience during their turn/era.

Hence, the new version of the Taliban seems to be mature. They have shown their maturity levels while taking over Afghanistan.

Like the earlier version, they are not hostile but more peaceful in their war tactics and ideology.

Their actions have proven their peacefulness as they have not been involved in any massacre while taking over power dynamics in the recent change of leadership/regime in Afghanistan.

Even after taking over they never got involved in revenge killing which used to be the Taliban 1.0 basic war toolkit.

The Taliban 2.0 provided a safe exit to all those who wanted to leave Afghanistan including the US and NATO forces and declared amnesty for all. That is something never experienced during the Taliban 1.0 rule.

In terms of their approaches towards the civilian population, the Taliban 1.0 were harsh and their war tools and ideology were extreme towards women empowerment.

They restricted women not to seek an education and were never allowed to learn about what is happening around them.

While Taliban 2.0 learnt over the years, that seeking worldly education is not a curse but important for all irrespective of gender discrimination.

They bring along western education and exposure to the world at large and are expected to apply the same set of skills in Afghanistan. The Taliban 1.0 had a minimum media representation while Taliban 2.0 are actively engaged in media like any other state.

They even sat across the table with a female host to conduct an interview. This is something way too different from the earlier version.

When it comes to government formation, the Taliban 2.0 seems to be not in any hurry to form a government but taking time to consult the regional powers on how best to deal with the current challenges.

Since in power they have not committed any blunder thus far to be blamed for despite the fact the West has frozen their $9 billion assets to run their government machinery.

That affects the daily life of the Afghan population. The Biden Administration affirmed support for “using diplomatic, humanitarian and economic means” to help the Afghan people — but only after it first stressed that leaders at the gathering discussed the need to maintain a “laser focus” on counterterrorism and the safe passage from the country of foreign nationals and Afghans eligible for asylum in the United States.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said in a statement, “We must do all we can to avert a major humanitarian and socio-economic collapse in Afghanistan.

We need to do it fast.” Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy, who hosted the Group of 20 meetings, called it “the first multilateral response to the Afghan crisis.” But still don’t trust, recognise and acknowledge the leadership of Taliban 2.0.

Regional powers are helping the Taliban 2.0, unlike the way they reacted to Taliban 1.0 where only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE recognised them. Also, regional powers are not in haste to recognise the Taliban government.

But, asked Taliban 2.0 to have a broad-based government giving representation to all major ethnic groups including women. So Taliban 2.0 are gradually expanding their cabinet and raising the share of other ethnicities/groups.

Seemingly, both the Taliban 2.0 and regional actors are taking their time and not in a haste to form their government and to be recognised by other states on urgent grounds.

Looks like Taliban 2.0 are different from the Taliban 1.0 in their outlook towards politics in Afghanistan and the world.

The new tools of Taliban 2.0 are moderation, women rights, interaction, patience, consultation, maturity, careful media usage, power-sharing, zero revenge, amnesty, etc that were never a part of the Taliban 1.0 regime.

The current Taliban are making efforts to succeed and no regional neighbours would like the Taliban 2.0 to fail.

Because failing the Taliban is not in the best interest of the regional stakeholders. Taliban 2.0 wants peace within and outside.

For that, they will not allow any foreigners to destabilize and dictate their country. I think the experts on Afghanistan need to give them a fair chance to govern.

If they fail they should be punished under the humanitarian laws for affecting the life of Afghans but if they become successful, they should be treated with respect and dignity as any other sovereign state!

—The writer is Assistant Professor, Department of Government and Public Policy, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Sciences and Technology.

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