Afghanistan: is it time to talk to the Taliban?

In The Guardian, Jonathan Steele writes:

Eight years after they were overthrown by US air power, a drumbeat is starting to sound across Afghanistan in favour of talking to the Taliban, the country’s once-hated former rulers. An idea that used to seem absurd, if not defeatist, is coming to be seen as the only credible way to end an ever-widening war. Moreover, the proposed agenda of negotiations is not a Taliban surrender, but an offer to share power in Kabul.

President Hamid Karzai and other senior Afghan politicians support the idea. So too do a growing number of foreign governments, including Britain’s – at least tentatively – now that British troops are being killed at twice the rate they were in early 2009.

Perhaps most surprisingly, even among Afghanistan’s small but determined group of woman professionals, the notion of making a deal with the ultra-conservative men who forced them into burkas and denied them the right to work outside the home is no longer anathema. A desperate desire for peace is trumping concern over human rights.

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