Taliban’s soft image campaign

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A series of pronouncements emanating from Kabul after it fell to the Taliban have highly positive impact both on Afghan people and the world public opinion, assuaging their fears about the negative fall out of the revolution in Afghanistan.

As part of the campaign to project their soft image, the Taliban leadership and spokespersons are consistent in their reaffirmation to treat all segments of the Afghan society equally without gender discrimination, set up an inclusive Government, extend a hand of peace and cooperation to all countries and will not allow the use of Afghan soil against other countries.

These calculated and deliberate gestures come as a pleasant surprise for the international community and their view of the Taliban has also started changing, which augurs well for the change in Kabul.

This is evident from the fact that apart from Pakistan and some regional countries like China and Russia, which have already declared their intention to remain fully engaged with the Taliban to help facilitate formation of an inclusive Government, now the European Union too has declared to maintain contacts with the Taliban with its Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell declaring ‘the Taliban have won the war, so we will have to talk with them’, which is a realistic approach in view of the ground realities in Afghanistan.

Based on what the Taliban have so far done or expressed their intention to do, it is the responsibility of all countries of the world to encourage implementation of the positive agenda as this provides a window of opportunity for restoration of much-needed peace and tranquillity in Afghanistan.

As the Taliban are taking care of the oft-repeated apprehensions of some segments of the international community, there is, therefore, absolutely no justification to pursue the negative propaganda and instead the Taliban should be given time and a free hand to take practical measures on the lines of their commitments before the world.

The most immediate concern after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban was about safety and security of the people and foreigners especially those Afghan nationals who rendered some kind of services for occupation troops during their war against the Taliban.

However, the Taliban showed magnanimity by announcing general amnesty for all with their spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid declaring “All those in the opposite side are pardoned from A to Z,” adding: “We will not seek revenge.”

Apart from promoting national harmony and solidarity at this crucial moment, the announcement would surely boost confidence of the officials to rejoin their duties and as a result there would be minimum dislocation of services for the people.

He also appealed to all those who fled the country to return and contribute their share in reconstruction and nation-building.

As rights groups and some foreign powers were conjecturing that women’s freedom could be eroded with the change of the Government, the Taliban have categorically declared that women can work in all spheres of life in Afghanistan and their rights would be respected with the framework of Islamic Shariah.

As a sign of their determination to implement what they pronounce, a spokesperson of the Taliban gave an interview to a female presenter on Afghanistan television, which sent positive signals all around.

Earlier, Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s Cultural Commission, made similar promises, saying the Taliban would extend an “amnesty” and encouraging women to join the government.

In a marked departure from the last time the Taliban were in power, Samangani addressed the concerns of women, saying Taliban were ready to “provide women with an environment to work and study, and the presence of women in different (government) structures according to Islamic law and in accordance with our cultural values.”

Despite all this, the Taliban will have to work hard to boost the confidence of their people as in a highly treacherous environment, where a number of conflicting interests are at work, attempts would surely be made by the enemy to portray the Taliban negatively.

The Taliban are also obviously mindful of this fact and that is why they have distributed their phone numbers among residents of Kabul to approach them immediately in case someone is harassing them or collecting donations, arms or vehicles in the name of Taliban.

The world should not expect the Taliban to implement their declarations with lightning speed as they still have to form a Government and would need time to appoint right and experienced persons to run the administrative machinery.

 

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