A senior British military official said Wednesday that the world should give the Taliban space to form a new government, arguing that the group could be more “reasonable” than during previous rule.
“We have to be patient, we have to hold our nerve and we have to give them the space to form a government and we have to give them the space to show their credentials,” said Gen. Nick Carter, the UK’s chief of defense staff. “It may be that this Taliban is a different Taliban to the one that people remember from the 1990s.”
The Taliban are currently engaged in talks on the structures of a new government with former Afghan officials, including former president Hamid Karzai.
“It may well be a Taliban that is more reasonable,” Carter said. “It’s less repressive. And indeed, if you look at the way it is governing Kabul at the moment, there are some indications that it is more reasonable.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid held a press conference Tuesday and said the group did not want to fight anymore. He also said a future government would allow women to work and attend school, something the Taliban did not permit when it ruled most of Afghanistan 20 years ago. Mujahid also said the Taliban would work to form an “inclusive” government.
There have been reports of violence in areas recently captured by the Taliban, but overall, there appears to be a relative calm across the country. Carter said the reports could be explained by the fact that there are different factions within the Taliban, and the violence might not reflect what the group’s core leadership wants to be happening.
“What we absolutely have to remember is that they are not a homogenous organization — the Taliban is a group of disparate tribal figures that come from all over rural Afghanistan,” he said. “Some of the behavior that we’re hearing reported at the moment may not be in line with what the political commission wants its country to be in the future.”
Only time will tell what Afghanistan’s future government will look like. Right now, it’s in the Taliban’s interest to keep the violence to a minimum as the US and other Western powers are evacuating their citizens.