ISLAMABAD: The Taliban were here to stay, and their absence could potentially lead to another war spanning many years said Obaidullah Baheer, lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan. He was speaking at a webinar organized by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS) titled ‘Afghanistan: Year in Review’ here on Tuesday.

Mr Baheer was of the view that the human rights abuses by the Taliban made it difficult for the West to engage with them.He added that though the Taliban had been trying to act as per the norms acceptable to the global liberal order, their actions such as media bans, public floggings, separate parks for women, and ban on women education in schools had put them in a difficult spot.

He said that crime rates in Afghanistan were alarmingly high and while they were not reported, they were still being dealt with extra-judicially. The internal security was also turning worse but was still far from when the Taliban had taken over. He was of the view that this was not the old Afghanistan nor the Taliban of the old times. The people back then were exhausted and willing to accept their rule. However, this time the Taliban had returned to power after 20 years and had taken over a well-built inclusive society. The Taliban had also gotten more exposure as they had travelled abroad and their families lived abroad, he added.

Mr Baheer said that the Taliban acted like they do not value recognition but some of them had stressed the importance of engaging with the world. Taliban had no mechanism for changing the Emir and the position of the Emir was for life. Hence, as the Taliban did not have any central ideology or literature, any change in leadership could completely alter their perception, he said.

Taliban were making a lot more enemies than friends. He stressed the need for an inclusive Afghan government. On Pak-Afghan relations, Dr Baheer said that the conventional channels for diplomacy could not work between India and Pakistan, hence iterating the need for new channels. He said that this time around the Taliban did not have any financial dependence on Pakistan like before, however, their views about Pakistan were rooted mainly in the trust deficit that prevailed following their rule in 2001. Lastly, he emphasized that viable developmental ventures in Afghani the international community.

Ambassador Nadeem Riyaz, President IRS said that the Taliban had not been able to gain political recognition that they had been hoping for. He iterated that there was an ensuing struggle between the Taliban themselves considering the divergences among the people regarding adherence to traditional mindsets.

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