On March 21, Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada issued a decree banning government officials from “unnecessary second, third or fourth marriages.” On May 22, Deputy Foreign Minister Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai gave a speech to a room full of Taliban in which he criticized Afghan culture for ignoring women’s rights as they are granted by Islam. By doing so, he also implicitly criticized the Taliban’s hardliners. Neither of these moves appears to have received so much as the blink of an eye from the international community.
There is still time to engage sincerely with the Taliban but it will mean a complete overhaul of the approach that Western diplomats and intelligence officers have been using to date. New ideas and pragmatism are imperative. The alternative is for the international community to fail the people of Afghanistan once again. The Taliban believe the West is set on vengeance for the outcome of August 2021; it is not too late for the international community to prove them wrong.
Cathal Ó Gabhann (@AnOGabhannOg) is a former humanitarian aid worker, who spent four years working in Afghanistan, dealing with the Taliban on a daily basis. He has spent the past fourteen years interacting with armed insurgent groups throughout Asia, as well as with prisoners of war and victims of alleged war crimes.