Taliban Seeks Image Makeover as Peace Talks Progress

Spokesman: Taliban are not as harsh as they were in 1996

As talks between the US and Taliban pick up pace, the Taliban is looking at the very real possibility that they’re going to get some future US-backed “caretaker government.” That’s got the Taliban rethinking its reputation.

Decades of war have tarnished the Taliban brand somewhat, and spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid says he wants to reassure Afghans that they have nothing to fear from a returning Taliban, and that they will not be as harsh as they were in 1996.

During their last rule of Afghanistan, however, the Taliban had a rather fierce reputation, with very strict laws based around their interpretation of Islam. Taliban-controlled areas in Afghanistan now still see some such rules, though how extensively enforced depends on how secure their control of the area is.

Other Afghan groups, especially those working for human rights groups, very much doubt that the Taliban are really changing. Since the deal on the Taliban coming to power is being negotiated with the US, not the Afghan government, however, the illusion of change may be sufficient.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.