A Chance For Peace

A week after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the war-scarred country is yet to get a government. So far, the Taliban has been providing security across the country, including in Kabul where the US and the other western countries are in the process of evacuating their people and the Afghans who worked for them. This has plunged the airport into chaos. One can only hope that it clears up as soon as possible.

It is also important that Kabul gets a stable, inclusive government soon. This alone would bring peace to a country wracked by four decades of war and conflict, that has ravaged it and killed lakhs of people. According to media reports,  the top Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar would meet with jihadi leaders and politicians, aiming at an “inclusive government set-up.”

Baradar who has been the main public face of the Taliban over the last two years, is likely to head the next government. He was the one who signed the peace accord between the Islamist group and the Trump administration in Doha in February 2020.

However, while the Islamist group may have effortlessly taken control of Afghanistan, there are still pockets of resistance to its rule. One such pocket is the Panjshir Valley where Ahmad Massoud, son of the assassinated legendary Afghan commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, has vowed to resist the Taliban. The Valley is currently the center of the resistance in Afghanistan. Media reports have said that the Taliban fighters are now heading to Panjshir to seize it from Massoud.

On his part, Massoud has sought negotiations with the Taliban to form a “comprehensive government”. It remains to be seen whether the Taliban will engage in a dialogue with Massoud, or seek to capture the territory from him. And in case, some regional powers seek to support Massoud in his resistance, the conflict is likely to drag on and Afghanistan will continue to be a battleground for a regional one-upmanship.

Here is hoping that this doesn't happen and that Afghanistan’s neighbours seek rather to cooperate to stabilize the country. Last time when the Taliban was in power they had succeeded in stabilizing the country. But this peaceful phase was largely undone by their rough-neck and obscurantist governance. In their new avatar, they are giving an impression that they have changed. They have promised an “inclusive government” which respects the rights of women and the minorities. However, the situation would become clear in the weeks and months to come. As things stand, the world has little option but to trust the Taliban.

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