Talking to the Taliban?

[picapp align=”center” wrap=”false” link=”term=afghanistan&iid=7719736″ src=”a/a/e/d/Members_Of_The_1f62.jpg?adImageId=9669622&imageId=7719736″ width=”380″ height=”240″ /]The UN has had “secret peace talks” with the Taliban.

An official statement from the Taliban leadership in response to today’s conference warned that “attempts by the enemy to bribe the mujahideen, offering them money and employment to abandon jihad, are futile”. However, it added what appeared to be a conciliatory note, saying that it was waging a jihad only to “liberate” Afghan territory and posed “no threat to neighbouring countries or anyone else”.

I understand that after nine years of war, peaceful solutions must be found. However, there should and must be an option between constant presence of foreign troops and the Taliban controlling Afghanistan.

Why?

Because their laws include (but are not limited to):
1. Restricting the attire and freedom of movement women and men
2. Prohibiting the education of women after the age of 8
3. Prohibiting the employment of women
4. Prohibiting women from seeing male physicians, and (see rule two) limiting the ability of women to be physicians (if they must see a male physician, the male is not allowed to touch the female, the hijab must be worn, and vocal interactions are limited).
5. Prohibiting music, British and American hairstyles (?), dancing at weddings, sorcery, washing clothes in streams, shaving, kite-flying, and keeping pigeons
6. Requiring prayer

Bearing in mind that there are Muslims who believe in Sharia law but think any punishment is in the hands of God, I am drawing a line between the Taliban means of enforcing Sharia law and whether or not that is justified within Sharia law. What matters is their interpretation and what happens to the people of Afghanistan, legally, when they break or are convicted of breaking any of the laws. Women Aid has a brief précis of the rise of the Taliban and how their laws and, critically, extreme punishment, differs from the usual.

Taliban law is enforced by religious police. Stoning, beating, and execution are all accepted punishments under the Taliban. They do not believe in democrat process. Human rights agencies have reported repeatedly on lack of fair trial and a corrupt justice system.

In 2000, the UN condemned human rights violations under the Taliban, including mass abductions and forced prostitution and marriage of women.

At present life is not that much better.

But is the choice really between warlords and religious police? Is there not a third, peaceful way that legislates basic human liberties and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment?

The right to life supersedes all others, and the ongoing war is brutal for much of the country, but basic human and women’s rights should not be compromised in an attempt to reconcile the Taliban and the current government.

Given that this is directly in conflict with the laws they sought to enforce, I don’t see how it’s possible.

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