OK, Keep The Beards, Say Taliban Leaders!

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear the United States is willing to cooperate with moderate Taliban leaders in order to achieve peace in Afghanistan. Although a Taliban spokesman denounced her suggestion as a “lunatic idea” there are reports of secret negotiations between the Karzai government and Taliban agents. Preliminary reports indicate the Taliban is willing to back away from its strict enforcement of no beards and insistence all women must wear the burqas. They apparently are even willing to allow girls to attend schools and to end beating up taxi drivers who listen to Bollywood music. Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, who was the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan has been part of a Saudi initiative for peace.

Early reports suggest the Taliban would agree to rule by religious scholars and technocrats who have been approved following a loya jirga or community meeting attended by public figures. The demand for a loya jirga could even proceed as early as next month if President Karzai convenes a meeting of elders. Taliban demands for withdrawal of all foreign forces within six months will not be accepted but there might be a way to achieve a compromise on the presence of foreign troops.

Most probably Taliban leaders want all action against them to be ended. If this agreement could be achieved it might be the best one that Afghan and American leaders could achieve in the near future.