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Taliban 2.0 : Will Big Money, New Churn Make Them Different?

  • Waseem Gul
  • 8th September, 2021 05:39:36 PM
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Taliban 2.0 : Will Big Money, New Churn Make Them Different?

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World Not Ready To Accept Taliban Barbarism 

After conquering Kabul, the Taliban want to be considered the ruler, not just a religious militia. Meetings and talks are being held behind closed doors to establish themselves both globally and domestically as legitimate rulers, with the aim of forming a government that includes forces other than the Taliban. Will these efforts be successful? What will happen to young Afghans who are accustomed to urban culture and the Internet and want to live in the 21st century, not the seventh?  This facility was taken away from them some time ago.

Life With Taliban 1.0

Under the leadership of Mullah Omar, in the previous era of the Taliban (1996-2001), the focus was on the implementation of the commandment of good and prohibition of evil. In the Pakistani madrassas where the Taliban were educated, they learned that this divine instruction meant becoming a religious policeman and straightening people’s morals. In contrast, according to liberal religious scholars, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil means believers should walk on the path of guidance while controlling their ego. Under Mullah Omar, the Taliban rejected this justification outright. They stoned adulterers, cut off hands for stealing, flogged sinners, closed girls’ schools, restricted women to homes, and demolished a 2,000-year-old Buddha statue in Bamiyan. The Afghans who came before them would have never heard of such incidents.

Will Economics Change The Taliban?

The changed Taliban are giving the impression that this time the justification for enjoining the good and forbidding the evil will not be so strict.  Will ordinary Taliban agree with that?  Nothing can be said yet. Of course, the militant Taliban leaders, who have been living on foreign aid and extortion for decades, are well aware that economic needs are calling for change. It makes sense. For those accustomed to luxury hotels in Doha or bungalows in Quetta and Peshawar, it is difficult to return to mountain villages from where they fought the invaders. The truth is that they now wish for the good life that their enemy invented. The day will come when these same Taliban or perhaps their next generation will send their children to normal schools instead of madrassas spread in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

For this, it is necessary that aid keep coming.  More importantly, billions of dollars worth of minerals are buried under Afghan soil. Both the technique and the organization will come from outside to extract these minerals. Many countries, especially Russia and China, are interested in these mineral deposits. It also means that regional politics will come to the fore and a variety of bargains will emerge. Pakistan wants to play an important role in this whole game. The Chinese are said to eat everything that moves, but the old-fashioned Taliban will not be able to digest them. Xinjiang may suffer from indigestion. The Taliban’s old allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are concerned that Taliban extremism should not reach them. Saudi Arabia and UAE are inclined towards social reform these days. Much remains to be done.

Pakistan can be accepted as a mediator because the leader who created the new Pakistan and the “new Taliban” (a term coined by Dawn columnist Niaz Murtaza) are ideologically the same. Both are against Western dress, education and language. Both shalwars emphasize symbolic items such as shirts or turbans.  According to both, the measure of morality is fasting and prayer. Imran Khan could not help but express his happiness over the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul.  “Afghanistan has broken the chains of slavery,” he said. In order to form a new structure, the new Taliban will obviously turn to the forces that made it successful. Yes, but a little caution will be exercised. Although it is prudent for the Taliban to associate with people who know they are hypocrites, the Taliban themselves are not hypocrites. The Taliban knows that his comrades were taken to Guantanamo Bay. Some have not yet returned.

The back cover of a book written by General Musharraf during his tenure reads: “We arrested 672 and handed over 369 to the United States. By arresting them, we have been rewarded with millions of dollars.” Memories don’t fade so easily.  It is a different matter that the winners are not discussing the deceptions of the past at this time. Islamabad, on the other hand, has the Taliban’s most trusted allies. A few days ago, Maulana Abdul Aziz and his associates waved the Taliban flag on the roof of Hafsa University for a while and sent a message to the Afghan conquerors: We were with you even when you were being bombed in Tora Bora. Now that you are victorious, we are still with you.

Will Taliban Thinking Spread Over Pakistan?

Like it or not. AfPak has become a reality. The term was introduced in the United States and was not popular in Pakistan, but it seems to be correct. Not only are the two countries geographically close, but ideologically the rulers of the two countries are also close now. Now Taliban thinking will spread all over Pakistan. With Taliban 2.0, India may find the going tough. Pakistan’s strategic dream has been fulfilled. Fearing that the new Taliban will be the same as the old one, millions of Afghans are fleeing the country.  The arrival of these Afghan refugees in Pakistan is also being opposed by those who have this poem of Iqbal on their lips:

Neither the queen nor the Iranians nor the Afghans remained Pan-Islamism of the Indo-Pak subcontinent, which resulted in the formation of Pakistan, dies on the Torkham border for most Pakistanis. But the new Taliban may be thinking differently.  Afghan nationalism has been successful. Cultural and linguistic continuity cannot be stopped by building a wall on the border. After defeating the most powerful empire in history, how will the Taliban sanctify the lines drawn by the old British? Pakistan should open its border to Afghan refugees. Failure to do so will be immoral. Using its influence, Pakistan should convince the Taliban: the world is not ready to accept their barbarism as before. This is not the time to imprison women in their homes and hide them in burqas or to oppress and kill religious and linguistic minorities. And before Pakistan explains this to the Taliban, it has to fix its own affairs.