This is the title of an article that appeared in the Financial Times dated August 14th 2013 by  Mr. Jacob  Shapiro assistant professor at Princeton University.
The author, who seems to be considered an expert on the subject, is convinced that once the US and allied troops leave, the Taliban will no longer have any excuse for violence, namely fighting the foreign presence and will turn pacific, if they are allowed to have their piece of the cake in the future government. The drop in foreign funding should also constitute an incentive in that direction, Mr. Shapiro believes. Obviously the FT and others must think that this analysis is a valid one, otherwise they would n’t publish it..
The mind, however, boggles. What on earth is this gentleman’s definition of violence? Is it solely limited to military acts against foreign powers or the Afghan military? He is n’t precise, but that’s what one presumes from his article.

What about the other, far more pernicious violence, akin to the kind that was pervasive during the Taliban era until the end of 2001,that which was enacted against the people of Afghanistan, principally 50% of the population, i.e. women? The author is right to say that the Taliban are not the ones of yesterday: equipped with modern technology, the leaders’ offspring educated in schools abroad, real economic resources in the drug trade (not mentioned by Mr Shapiro who is satisfied with calling their finances “opaque”): after all, since 9/11, Afghanistan holds the staggering record of being the world’s top producer of both opium and cannabis. No more hand-chopping as in Mullah Omar’s day, on the contrary mass cultivation offset by spiralling debts from peasants to drug lords who have lent them money in the context of falling prices for opium. As a result- amongst many others, behaviour dictated by extreme despair: selling off of little girls to pay for debts, increasing drug dependence. Surely this is violence, Mr Shapiro, which will not go away as the Taliban (and their numerous clean-shaven associates) will continue to depend on this endless source of income with the connivance of globalized Mafias.

A UN report on Afghanistan published last year entitled ‘Silence is violence’ summarized the situation and is still valid today: “Women participating in virtually all sectors of public life, including “parliamentarians, provincial council members, civil servants, journalists, women working for international organizations… have been targeted by anti-government elements, by local traditional and religious power-holders, by their own families and communities, and in some instances by government authorities”. Taliban ethics then as now, based on the most conservative interpretation of Islamic law (whereas there are other options) mixed in with tribal custom do not allow for women’s presence in public space, let alone in any position of authority that necessarily challenges their sense of patriarchal entitlement. This includes, at the most basic level, the threat that women’s education represents, on a mid to long term basis (the level of protest in Iran is in part the result of a generation of women benefitting from education and constituting over half of the student population in the country)

Every day, we hear reports of killings. The latest concerns lslam Bibi, the 37-year-old police lieutenant, the top female officer in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province which happens to be run by Taliban forces and concentrates most of Afghanistan’s opium production. Her fate echoes that of Malalai Kakar who occupied the same position also in Helmand and was officially shot dead by Taliban in 2008. A powerful woman grappling with the Taliban’s main source of income and thereby fighting the sheer terror which reigns in these provinces as a result of narco-economics constitutes a major challenge to Mr Shapiro’s would-be pacifists. The only reaction to what is considered a totally unacceptable female threat is murder and to continue intimidating, threatening, condoning “honour” killings of more women, accepting the barter and selling of children. This is the violence one can justifiably fear from the Taliban in the future, Mr Shapiro, “terror” and “terrorism” are not just foreign policy issues.

 

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