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Opinion

Mainstreaming Taliban will be a Grave Mistake

Shekhar Patel

Shekhar PatelSep 13, 2021, 03:52 PM IST

Mainstreaming Taliban will be a Grave Mistake
The fall of Afghanistan is the start of the collapse of American influence and the receding of Human Rights across the globe

If the world wishes to preserve its cultural diversity and civilisation, the leaders of democratic, multi-ethnic, and pluralistic societies must reject the Taliban and its interpretation of the Quran in unambiguous terms

 

The world is shocked at the blitzing fall of the Afghanistan Government to the Taliban. A typical liberal-trained mind cannot comprehend how the Taliban could defeat a superpower's effort of about 20 years. America's defeat at the hands of the Taliban is a consequence of the continuous process of radicalisation of a vast population willing to sacrifice their lives at the altar of  religious purity.

America’s effort to establish a liberal democracy in Afghanistan cost hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. It took just a few weeks to dismantle it. The West is focusing on restoring its credibility regarding pursuing liberal values across the globe. Will the West be relegated to just talk and no action when it comes to Human Rights?

Suppose America puts its self-interest first and relegates defending liberal values across the globe, when convenient, to its allies. In that case, the influence of the West will quickly wane across the world. It was evident from the Afghan experience that there is a limit to resources in advancing human rights across the globe, especially among the deprived infested with  radical fundamentalists.

The fall of Afghanistan is the start of the collapse of American influence and the receding of Human Rights across the globe. It is natural for the champions of Human Rights to be worried about the rise of the Taliban. The Taliban, the Wahabis/Salafis, non-believers in democratic governance and opposed to any significant power to women, indeed won the fight of endurance for the first time.

Countries with pseudo-democracies governed indirectly by the military or authoritarian rule are happy to embrace the Taliban as their own. There seems to be a rush among such countries to adopt the Taliban and engage with them. It is only a hope that those who fought against the Taliban do not legitimise them. It is shocking to see America engaging with the Taliban for self-interest.

If the world, Islamic and non-Islamic, truly takes time to research why the Taliban won, it will do it a favour. Taliban is a phenomenon that took more than a century to take shape. Saudi Arabia’s billions of dollars in funding during the latter decades of the twentieth century for the Wahabi/Salafi school of thought helped propagate radical seminaries for the Talibs.

While the Saudis have now toned down their efforts, the pursuit of “religious purity” for power, control of land, and control over people has become a goal of this new breed of Islamists. Refusal to recognise the diversity of thoughts and narrower interpretation of Islam adds fuel to the fire, leading to a very motivated group of people willing to kill and harm innocent people.

These terrorist groups trying to control the larger population outdo each other in barbaric justice, social customs, and practices to establish themselves at the top of the “religious purity pyramid.” Being seen as the purest form of Islam has become critical to recruiting new followers on social media. All these terrorist organisations have common political goals of controlling land and people, attracting new deviant recruits. Radical Islam is once again evolving into a fiercely brutal force witnessed by the world about a millennia ago. The fringe elements within Islam are slowly becoming mainstream. The international community must not open avenues for radical fundamentalists to become mainstream. Countries thinking for short-term tactical advantage through the Taliban will pay a heavy price in decades to come. If unchecked, these extreme forces will sprout and thrive in their lands too.

Radical Islam is once again evolving into a fiercely brutal force witnessed by the world about a millennia ago. The fringe elements within Islam are slowly becoming mainstream. The international community must not open avenues for radical fundamentalists to become mainstream. Countries thinking for short-term tactical advantage through the Taliban will pay a heavy price in decades to come. If unchecked, these extreme forces will sprout and thrive in their lands too

History shows that once fundamentalist radicals become rulers, a very long period of degradation of the society follows, and civilisation, as we know, stops being vibrant—decay and desperation take root. The only people who benefit further are those in the ruling class and can mimic the ruler’s way of life, culture, and religion. For Bharat, the Taliban is a clear threat in the longer term. It is a more significant sustainable threat than Pakistan and China. A similar brutal force emerged from Afghanistan about 1000 years ago, impacting Bharat's culture and psyche.

Suppose the world wishes to preserve its cultural diversity and civilisation. In that case, leaders of democratic, multi-ethnic, and pluralistic societies must reject the Taliban and its interpretation of the Quran in unambiguous terms. A significant proportion of the world population is Muslim and are faithful followers of the Quran. They would never accept the Taliban as their rulers, including most Afghans.

Afghans must get an opportunity to get themselves rid of the Taliban. In the meantime, the world must not strengthen the Taliban by providing it legitimacy. For the sake of human rights, religious freedom, and women’s rights, the world should not recognise the Taliban. 

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