Milad Hamadi for the Tasnim News Agency, Licensed under CC BY 4.0

Opinion: Normalising the Taliban will make Afghanistan suffer more and the world less safe

By Roh Yakobi

Afghanistan is a “country transformed” under the Taliban rule, the chair of the British parliament’s Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, has declared. Transformed not in a bad way, he argues.

The former soldier and a defence minister, following a trip to Afghanistan, has penned an article for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, in which he praises the Taliban. Under the group’s rule, he says, security has “vastly improved” corruption has “all but disappeared” and opium trade “seemingly gone”.

He argues that it is time for the UK to reopen its embassy in Kabul and “re-engage” with the Taliban.

The Taliban, has indeed, welcomed Ellwood’s “report” shared in video on Twitter. In a tweet, the group’s longtime spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that what Ellwood has reported is a small part of the positive things it has done.

Ellwood’s remarks and blatant advocacy for the Taliban from one of the most senior and influential positions in the British parliament, has rightly attracted widespread condemnations from both British and Afghanistan’s citizens.

This, of course, is not the first time Ellwood has called for the UK establish normal relationship with the Taliban. In February 2022, he called for recognition of the group.

The Taliban’s rule has been marked by gross violations of human rights. The group has enacted over 50 restrictions on women and girls. Ethnic and religious minorities have been brutally suppressed. Freedom of expression has all but disappeared and journalist persecuted.

By making the case for the Taliban’s rule to be accepted, without a scintilla of regards and considerations for the people of Afghanistan and their plight, Ellwood is condoning all of what the group has been up to.

Ethical arguments aside, Ellwood’s position at the heart of the British security establishment, makes his stance particularly jarring. The Committee he chairs overseas Britain’s Ministry of Defence and security apparatus.

Normalising the Taliban’s rule will not only prolong the miseries it inflict on the people of Afghanistan, but will make the region and world less safe. The group has long maintained close ties with terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and others.

Normalising the group will also send a dangerous message to extremist groups worldwide. It will embolden similar groups to pursue their objectives with the belief that international recognition and acceptance are attainable, leading to the proliferation of radical ideologies.

In other words, normalising the Taliban will have far-reaching moral and security implications. From violations of human rights to potential escalation of terrorism and instability, the consequences of what Ellwood is up to should not be taken lightly.

Ellwood and other Western political figures should use their influence to promoting universal values and ensuring security of nations and individuals. That is the only way to help the people of Afghanistan.

Roh Yakobi is the editor of KabulNow.

Opinions reflect the views of authors, not KabulNow.