COMMENTARY | I have been in Afghanistan, a land of turmoil, for almost three years, providing literacy training to the Afghan National Security Forces. I am a contractor stationed in Kabul, working alongside numerous Afghans from the various tribes throughout the country, including ethnic Pashtuns, the tribe which spawned the Taliban.
Thankfully, not all Pashtuns share the vision or goals of the Taliban.
When the Taliban was in power, Mullah Omar served as the country's de facto president for five years. During that time, few saw him. Numerous Afghans today question how one can represent the needs of people and never be seen. Even today, few see him. He sends representatives for meetings and many of them end up blowing themselves up -- as happened when the Taliban convened a meeting with the Afghan High Peace Council here in Kabul in September 2011. Former President Burhanuddin Rabbani was the target of the blast, and he was killed along with three deputies.
In the build up to opening an office in Doha, Qatar, Mullah Omar has suggests that the constitution be changed to reflect Islamic Shariah law. Further, women are to remain uneducated, covered and left to work in the home; all foreigners are to leave the country, including NGOs; there is to be no television media, only radio; and the official languages are to be Arabic and Pashtu.
If the United States negotiates with the Taliban, who in no way even nearly represent the sentiments of the majority of Afghans much less the Pashtuns, they must insist on a few things themselves: Mullah Omar must be a part of the negotiations in Doha. It would be wise to include an Arab mullah, Hamid Karzai and the president of Pakistan.
Will this work? I am very pessimistic, given the sentiments of the majority of Afghans coupled with the intended slight of the Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hazaras and other tribes in most of the country who speak Dari (an offshoot of Iranian Farsi) The Taliban and their Arab supporters have an air of superiority surrounding them. They are greatly distrustful of any non-Muslims, and often consider non-Pashtuns as inferior.
I believe real peace can be achieved if the Taliban agree to U.S. stipulations and if the United States, with complicity of Pakistan, gives serious consideration to the creation of a separate state of Pashtunistan, which would encompass southern Afghanistan and parts of northern Pakistan. A negotiation must also include a representative of the unheard voices in Afghanistan -- those who oppose the Taliban. A representative of the former Northern Alliance headed by the late Ahmad Shah Masood would suffice.
Most of the Afghans not aligned with the Taliban will admit that the origins of the Taliban and the strife and suffering of Afghans comes from Pakistan. They don't trust the Pakistanis or their government. Given that Mullah Omar is believed to be hiding there and that Osama Bin Laden was found there, placing a buffer between Afghans and Pakistan with the formulation of Pashtunistan will help transform the land of turmoil (Afghanistan) in to the land of the sun (Khoristan) once again.
- Politics & Government
- Unrest, Conflicts & War
- Mullah Omar
- the Taliban