Afghan Taliban: A Perennial Threat, But A Continuing Enigma – Analysis
By Rustam Ali Seerat*
Over the course of the last month a series of abductions passenger’s buses have happened in the northern city of Kuduz, the city which last year fell into the hands of the Taliban. The Taliban has claimed the responsibly and have told that they have singled out and shot dead ex-members of the Afghan Army. In these incidents more than 200 passengers are abducted which 26 passengers have been shot dead, some others were released while some are still in their captivity. The Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani in his statements besides condemning these abductions by the Taliban called the group “Quta-0-Tariqs”, an Arabic word which means bandits (literally meaning road cutters). Categorizations as such have been consistent in the Afghan official language when addressing insurgencies, but given the general reference that it is attached to, the specificities of issues that Taliban contributes to have continued to elude the grasp of those who are seeking to deal with it.
There is no clear agreement among the Afghans on what to call the Taliban. The disagreements on what to name the group have stroke strong controversies among Afghans as well as people-governments. Hamid Karzai was calling the Taliban Baradaran Narazi (Unhappy brothers). Despite being heavily criticized, the president kept insisting on calling them brothers. He sometimes divided the Taliban into different binaries; as the good Taliban-Bad Taliban, Pakistani Taliban-Afghani Taliban. President Ghani, however, in his statement in his first days in office was calling the insurgent group as ‘political opposition’, which set a new controversies among the Afghan analysts. Some interpreted the newly president in office in positive and functional way. They reasoned the president by elevating the status of the group from “unhappy brothers” to the “political opposition” was aiming to convert the insurgencies to a politically organized political force, hopping it facilitate his way to start negotiating and finally integrating them in the government. In contrary some others pessimist of his approach saw this as a plotting act of the president who wants to empower the group and create it as a political force parallel to the Afghan government, because of his ethnic ties with the group.
After a deadly attack on the office responsible for providing ministerial and VIP protections in Kabul which resulted the deaths of more 60 guards in the early morning of March 19, 2016 ,the president in his speech in the parliament house moderated his use of term and called “some of the Taliban as the enemy of the Afghan people”. The use of the conjunction “some” again did not satisfy many Afghans who were waiting for the president to give a clear definition of Afghan friends and foes.
The Afghan people, social media users and social activists believe behind these friendly and soft terminologies and names in calling the Taliban is hidden the lack of political will on the side of the Afghan officials to fight the group. People want the government to declare the Taliban as the enemy of Afghan people. Some analysts believe, not defining the insurgent group in concrete words have affected the determination of the Afghan Army and weaken their morals in fighting the group which have led to strengthening the Taliban. These analysts also believe the use of un-concrete terminologies have distorted the understanding of the group, what it stands for and what it demands.
*Rustam Ali Seerat is a post-graduate in International Relations from South Asian University. He can be reached at: [email protected]