COLUMN: Taliban rule tough act to follow

In this war against terrorism, we focus our attention on Afghanistan. In particular, our goal is to remove the Taliban from power. But who is the Taliban? How did it get to where they are today? I found some interesting facts surrounding these questions, and today that's what I'm going to+â-ªshare with you.

Some view the Taliban as a creation of Pakistan's security, military and religious establishments and sustained financially and otherwise by Saudi Arabia and its allies. Others credit them with having replaced violence and social chaos with peace and security in the areas under their domination. I know that is hard to believe for us as Americans, but still there are those who praise the Taliban.

The Taliban first drew the world's attention in 1994, when Pakistan recruited them to protect their trade convoys. They grew in popularity because they fought corruption and lawlessness and because they, like most of the Afghan people, are ethnic Pashtoons, while the leaders at the time were Tajiks and Uzbeks. The Taliban captured the Afghan capital of Kabul in 1996, and by 1998, had virtually eliminated the opposing Northern Alliance.

The Taliban, as ruling party of more then two-thirds of Afghanistan, are not precisely the same as the taliban, who are religious students. Confused? Well, both religious schools and taliban existed long before the modern system of schools and education was introduced there almost a century ago. The Taliban, as the government body, means "seekers of truth."

The Taliban rule based on religious thought, and often times based solely on one particular school of religious thought. They have no sense of the rest of the world's logic, nor do they care. This frustrates and angers us, as it does to them. They do not understand why we should have any business in their affairs, whether they amputate the hand of a thief or stone to death an adulterer, as prescribed by Islamic criminal law.

For the past several weeks we have been bombing the Taliban, trying to get them to yield power. However, the question is, yield power to whom? Until now there has not been one organized ruling party capable of standing against the Taliban. Even now, the Northern Alliance, who is battling the Taliban on the ground are strongly backed by the U.S., and it is hard to believe they could have gotten this far without our support.

In the Washington Report, I read an article about the staying power of the Taliban. It made a good point. After so many years of debilitating warfare, concentrated in and around the cities, the urbane, educated elite who would challenge the norms set by the Taliban have vanished.

More importantly, for centuries the great masses of Afghans have thrived under the most primitive political and economic conditions, while the past two decades have brought only war, poverty and insecurity. For most Afghans, therefore, their present situation under the Taliban appears to be, if not ideal, the best of all possible worlds.

Now that war has returned and Afghans fear for their lives everyday, one would think they would abandon the Taliban. We've seen some defectors, but the majority of the population hates America and blames us, not their government. So if and when we do defeat the Taliban, whoever becomes the ruling party or parties, has a tough job in front of them.

In America, one thing is clear; we will do what we have to do to get the Taliban out of power. They harbor terrorists and condone killing of innocent people, even their own. Both actions are contradictory to human laws and ideals.

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