The Taleban could be different this time, Britain’s army chief says

LONDON – The world should give the Taleban the space to form a new government in and may discover that the insurgents cast as militants by the West for decades have become more reasonable, the head of the British army said on Wednesday (Aug 18).

The leaders of the Taleban will show themselves to the world, an of the Islamist movement said on Wednesday, unlike during the last 20 years, when its leaders have lived largely in secret.

Nick Carter, Britain’s chief of the defence staff, said he was in contact with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai who Carter said would meet the Taleban on Wednesday.

“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,” Carter told the BBC. “It may be that this Taleban is a different Taleban to the one that people remember from the 1990s.”

“We may well discover, if we give them the space, that this Taleban is of course more reasonable but what we absolutely have to remember is that they are not a homogenous organisation – the Taleban is a group of disparate tribal figures that come from all over rural Afghanistan.”

Carter said the Taleban were essentially “country boys” who lived by the so called “Pashtunwali”, the traditional tribal way of life and of conduct of the Pashtun people.

“It may well be a Taleban 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.”

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