Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 15th, 2021

Do Not Embolden Taliban by Removing Leaders from Blacklist

The governments of U.S. and U.K. have decided to give a major push to their attempts at negotiation with Taliban by removing a number of high-ranking Taliban officials from the blacklist maintained by the United Nations. Officially, this is being pursued as a result of a request by the government of Afghanistan to reconsider the names on the blacklist. Currently, the blacklist contains the names of around 140 members of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, many of them serving as Taliban's high-ranking commanders now engaged in battling the Afghan government and NATO troops.

Chairman of the U.N. Sanctions Committee has hinted at the U.N.'s possible decision to separate the Taliban list from that of Al-Qaeda. The U.N. and the governments of U.S. and U.K. insist that the move would enable these Taliban leaders to freely travel abroad to take part in peace negotiations. The move is in line with the larger western objective of differentiating the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, embracing the former while fighting the latter as before.

This decision, now almost certain to be implemented, is fraught with many inherent dangers. First of all, in the perception of Taliban, it would send a message to their leaders and fighters alike that not only the government of Afghanistan but also the Western countries they have fought against for ten years, are finally kneeling in despair before them. Second, it is certain that after the names of certain Taliban leaders are taken off the international blacklist, it would further weaken the position of the government of Afghanistan against its enemies.

While the results of such a move in terms of its impact on jump-starting the peace process is not guaranteed, it will certainly result into emboldening the Taliban and intensifying their campaign of bombings and assassinations of tribal elders and non-Pashtun Jihadi leaders from northern regions. The removal of Taliban commanders from the international blacklist, if it is to really aid the peace process, should be granted in return for strong and credible demonstration by Taliban that they are really committed to peace and dialogue. As long as the Taliban respond to offers of dialogue and peace by increasing their campaigns of terror and bombings and sending ever more numbers of child suicide bombers, taking their leaders' names off the blacklist would open the floodgates of barbarians from across the border.

The process of reconciliation with Taliban, if it is to be really about integrating the Taliban into the mainstream, must be based on a clear and practical framework of action during which the foot soldiers are drawn into the government fold while the hard-core leaders banished and eliminated. This is on account of the fact that the hard-core leaders of Taliban, many of them with names on the blacklist, are not some disaffected villagers who can be pacified with offers of jobs and money.

These sections of Taliban are bent on stopping nothing short of overthrowing the government and re-establishing a Sharia government. As the options are becoming more and more limited for the people of Afghanistan, a civil, grassroots people movement needs to be awakened to demand accountability from the government and prevent the sell-out of the country and its people.