FIVE POINT REFORM KEY TO TALIBAN POLITICAL SURVIVAL
Scenes of the Taliban gloriously grabbing power district by district, reaching the capital Kabul - without any resistance from the US-backed Afghan government is one spectacular military and political success.
But if the Taliban wants to successfully rule Afghanistan again and maintain peace and stability after being out of power for 20 years, it will have to look into a global mirror and implement some immediate reforms.
To regain political legitimacy outside the corridors of power in Kabul, and to have any chance of long-term political survival as a recognized and stable national government, any new Taliban government will have to make key socio-political inclusive reforms in 5 identified areas.
The Taliban must be seen to have severed all ties with the Al-Qaeda terrorist group - at least in public. The shielding of Al-Qaeda and its founder, Osama Bin Laden, allowed the jihadist group to plan the 9/11 atrocity against the U.S. government and the main reason why the United States and her NATO allies invaded , bombed and occupied Afghanistan for almost 20 years.
If the Taliban wants to survive as a legitimate government in Afghanistan , it must guarantee the international community that it has taken all necessary measures to cut ties with Al Qaeda networks.
How the Taliban achieves this difficult task, considering its close operational links with Al-Qaeda for two decades, is down to the Taliban. But as long as the Taliban is linked with or held ransom by Al-Qaeda,, its diplomatic image and international relations will struggle at home and abroad. A regained pariah status could further damage its deteriorating economy.
Second, and related to the first point, the Taliban will have to demonstrate that it has a counter-insurgency plan to prevent ISIS and other known jihadist groups in the Khorasan Province from using Afghanistan as a safe haven to either hide, train fighters or launch attacks outside of Afghanistan.
One way of doing this could be for Taliban to actively join and take proactive roles with existing global coalition initiatives targeting terrorist groups and their affiliated networks.
The Taliban must be prepared to rebuild lost trust from many Afghanis. They are as horrified as we are of the sight of fleeing Afghans at Kabul International airport. Who can forget seeing panicked citizens fall off departing planes as they take off? Many are still terrified of a Taliban government, uncertain and fearful of what could befall them under Taliban rule.
They are getting devastating reports of mass murders and the dragging of security forces from their homes and then executed nearby. The reports are flooding out of the town of Spin Boldak, on the border with Pakistan, confirming the stereotypical Taliban image of brutality. To reverse this terror scenario, the Taliban has to guarantee complete amnesty and demonstrate that it has a clear and accountable policy framework of inclusivity.
And it must equally guarantee that its leadership will not tolerate command policies that target individuals or government institutions in revenge or engage in any discriminatory treatment against Afghanis or foreigners who worked for or supported the previous Afghanistan government. A legislative approach could help.
So too, the Taliban must reform the way it treats women and girls. It must guarantee that it will establish a protection and accountability mechanism for the well-being of women and girls who wish to engage in education , sports, politics and employment activities at any level. This kind of reform will surely guarantee a win of hearts and minds of many Afghans at home and abroad.
Last but the not the least, the Taliban must not renegade on a genuine power sharing government with key members of the previous government of Afghanistan and opposition political groups. An inclusive government will save Taliban from internal political challenges by resistant forces.
It may have been unexpectedly easy for the Taliban to take power from Kabul after 20 years as an Insurgency group - but powerful armed dissident groups that feel entitled but excluded from any power sharing with the Taliban will make governance and stability challenging and complex. Ordinary Afghans will bear the greatest impact as always.
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David Otto is the Director for Stepped In – Step Out UK Ltd and a Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Expert. He is a Certified Anti -Terrorism Specialist (CAS), a Certified Master Anti -Terrorism Specialist (CMAS) and a programme trainer with the Anti -Terrorism Accreditation Board (ATAB). Twitter @ottotgs Email: David.firstname.lastname@example.org.