Make demands on the Taliban – VG

DOHA MEETING: Taliban representatives met with US and European envoys in Qatar in October.

The Norwegian government must make crystal clear demands when representatives of the Taliban come to Norway. Especially when it comes to girls’ education and women’s rights in Afghanistan.

This is a leader. The leader expresses VG’s attitude. VG’s political editor is responsible for the leader.

VG brought the news that Norway has invited the Taliban to meetings in Oslo in the next few days. Taliban representatives must not only meet with the Norwegian authorities, but also Afghan civilians and representatives of other countries. The news is startling. This is the first time Taliban representatives have come to a Western country to attend such meetings after seizing power in Afghanistan.

The easiest thing for Norway would be to turn its back on the Taliban. Prior to 2001, this extremist Islamist group led a terror regime in Afghanistan. In a war that lasted 20 years, factions of the Taliban attacked both military and civilian targets. Norway has used large resources in Afghanistan over many years, and suffered painful loss of life.

Despite some positive statements from Taliban leaders, we have no illusions that the movement has changed significantly. The Taliban apparently has the same contempt for democracy and free elections as before. We are very concerned about the situation of women and the conditions of freedom of expression under the new Taliban regime.

The main reason why it is still necessary to talk to the Taliban is that Afghan civilians are in an acute humanitarian and economic crisis. One million children can die of starvation if help does not arrive. Half of Afghanistan’s population is starving this winter. We can be passive witnesses to such a catastrophe unfolding. The aid can be channeled through international organizations, but we must also deal with the authorities in Kabul.

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Norway has a long tradition of facilitating negotiations, often with groups and regimes that are distant from us politically. Then it is important that we make full use of the opportunity to influence. Because Afghanistan is in a precarious situation, it is conceivable that the Taliban will benefit from meeting certain requirements, such as giving women the opportunity for education and work. Norway must also advocate for a more inclusive government and free elections.

The time has not come for diplomatic recognition of the new regime. We just have to realize that it is necessary to deal with those in power in Kabul, first and foremost for the sake of Afghan civilians. IS is carrying out horrific terrorist attacks, the economy is collapsing and the Afghans are losing what little they have. It could lead to a new influx of refugees.

There is a dramatic situation in Afghanistan. It can get even worse.

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