A letter to the Taliban

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By Dr. Ejaz Akram and Pepe Escobar

Part I

IMAGINE if the French revolutionaries were asked to retain the elements of the kingdom of Louis XVI while forming the new republic to keep it all ‘inclusive’.

Imagine that the American revolutionaries were asked to keep the British loyalists as a part of the new American republic to keep it all inclusive.

Imagine that the Bolsheviks were asked to keep the Czarist loyalists in the government to keep it all inclusive.

Imagine that Chairman Mao was asked to keep the Kuomintang as a part of his new set up to keep things all inclusive.

Imagine that Imam Khomeini was asked to keep the elements of Reza Shah’s puppet government to keep the new Iranian government all inclusive.

Imagine that Erdogan was asked shortly after the coup to keep the Gulen movement intact to keep the Turkish government all inclusive.

Imagine that the Saudis are asked to give due representation to a quarter of its Shi’ite population to keep the Kingdom all inclusive.

Imagine that India’s Modi is asked to give full citizenship rights to Muslims, Sikhs and other minorities to keep RSS-India all inclusive.

If all of the above cannot be, then what logic is the so-called international community practicing when asking the Taliban to keep those who aided and abetted the utterly unjustified foreign occupation as a part of their government to keep things all inclusive?

What happened in Afghanistan was not a mere change of government. A puppet state responsible for killing their own people and spreading subversion in the region was overthrown. Any talk of government comes after the state formation is complete. To keep the elements of the Ancient Regime is to keep the fifth columnists alive who can undo their half-century long struggle to keep foreign rule out. It is like asking a surgeon not to remove all the cancerous tissue from a cancer patient as it might come in handy later.

A state is one group that has to have a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. All other groups have to be disarmed and disbanded. After the state is formed and all groups subscribe to a creed that is shared by all, only then a government can be formed by a wider group of people who will reflect peoples’ sensibilities and beliefs and values. If that government does not do that the people will not consider it legitimate and the state will stage a coup and send home the government.

Taliban guarding the roads

That state’s legitimacy comes from a principle to which the population of that country subscribes through their primordial socio-religious moorings. This common denominator in Afghanistan is none other than Muslim beliefs and values. Even though the Taliban’s overwhelming force are Pashtun (which means they practice Pashtunwali code and its understanding of Hanafi Sunni Shariah), non-Pashtun Afghans are all Muslims too. So, their common denominator still remains Islam.

Therefore, for the Taliban to insist that their rule should be built on Islamic principles is rooted in sound logic. To expect that the Afghans will subscribe to Swedish liberalism is a daydream. Ashraf Ghani was prepared to go down that foolish path, but the Taliban are too smart to do the same.

Keep in mind that the Taliban took control of the entire country without a fight. The so-called Afghan National Army disbanded so easily and hugged the Taliban fighters and many even joined them. If public opinion is not behind a resistance movement, it can never succeed.

This is the proof of Taliban’s inclusion. Unlike the Bolsheviks, the French revolutionaries, the American revolutionaries, the Saudis, the Iranians and many others who butchered their opponents on their path to power, the Taliban gave general amnesty to all. Who has more mercy in their hearts, the progenitors of the modern republics or the Taliban? We have never seen such a spectacle in recent human history. If this is not inclusion, then what is?

The reason the “international community”, as in a gang of Western nations gone rogue, is shrieking and fretting over an Islamic system for Afghanistan is because of their habitual and historical prejudice against Islam and Muslims. From crusades to colonialism, in the West’s imagination, Islam is the ultimate boogeyman. Edward Said illustrated that quite well in his famous classic, Orientalism. The contemporary Islamophobia industry is another proof of the West’s unfounded hatred of Islam. One would only hope that the Chinese and Russian political systems do not allow their ruling elite to go down that path, or else the long-term consequences for both these superpowers may not be pleasant. So far, their state media are toeing the Western logic of inclusivism, similar to their pro-America positions in the aftermath of 9/11, without much reflection as to who was right and who was wrong. We have faith that these two political systems will make better judgments this time around.

Another absurd proposition by the “August” international community is that the Taliban must fulfill the promises they made overnight. This is like asking a newborn baby to start running immediately right after being born. For anyone who knows the ABC of statecraft should know that it is not possible. First the state has to be consolidated. This will take a few months.

Taliban patrolling

The interim set up must not include elements of the Ancien Regime who were on the payroll of the enemy they fought for twenty long years. Then a variety of cross-ethnic elements in the country must be recruited who subscribe to the common denominator of beliefs and values that the state is expected to be a vanguard of. This is inclusion and this will yield legitimacy of the state in the eyes of its people.

Once the state is consolidated, a government should be formed in accordance to Islamic principles. Islam is neutral to the form of government. It only insists that regardless of the form of the government, the outcome must be justice. Whether it is a kingdom, a city-state, a democracy or any other form, the outcome must be justice.

The Quran also suggests that justice is not equality. Equality is giving everyone the same; justice is giving whomever their due. Quran is kitab-al-insaf (book of justice) and not kitab-al-masawat (book of equality).

After the period of state consolidation, government formation should be achieved on the principle of meritocracy, and not multi-party democracy, in which global capitalists will turn democrats into their prostitutes and rip off the people. Honest and competent people from all ethnic backgrounds should be chosen, then trained and then run the government.

But that phase comes after the state formation process in which it must never be forgotten that that community which struggled and sacrificed enormously to throw out the foreigners should have more say in matters of state formation, compared to those who sided with the oppressor to kill their own people and their neighbors. This is common sense, which is beyond the IQ of the “international community”.

(To be continued)

(Dr. Ejaz Akram, Professor of Religion & World Politics at the National Defense University in Islamabad. Pepe Escobar is a Brazilian journalist and international policy analyst.)