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US failure in Afghanistan offers lessons for Taliban: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-09-08 18:45

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (Rear) speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sept 7, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Taliban announced it had formed an interim government on Tuesday. This marked its regaining of power in Afghanistan after the failure of the United States' 20-year experiment to export US-style democracy to the country.

No matter what its image has been, the Taliban should know that the international community and the Afghan people have common hopes that it can in the first place sever its connections with any terrorist groups, eliminate the soil for terrorism, and put an end to the lasting chaos in the war-torn country.

This is undoubtedly an opportunity for the Taliban to start all over again. But it should bear in mind that, despite history showing it is so far the only force that is able to gain a hold on the country, the opportunity has arisen in part because of the US' failure, not just its own success. How much trust and support the Taliban can win from the world depends on how soon and the extent to which it can bring order, peace and development to the country. For that to happen, the Taliban will need to create stable, inclusive and trusted institutions that can meet the needs of different sects, as it said it will do.

That is the prerequisite for establishing order in the country. And this is exactly where the US failed. It only managed to maintain superficial stability through the use of force. That should be a lesson for the Taliban that it should refrain from using force to produce a fake unity and instead try and seek common ground for sectarian reconciliation and national unity.

The US failure over the past two decades shows that the development of the country should primarily depend on the Afghan people themselves, not foreign interference. So the founding of the acting government should, in the first place, be interpreted as a call the Taliban makes to other sects in the country that it is time they lay aside their disputes for the common purpose of rebuilding the country.

Unlike the colonial age or the Cold War, when it was more difficult for the Afghan people to seize their own fate in their hands, the external environment it faces today is more favorable, as peace and development is the main theme of the times and economic globalization has become a historical trend.

That means every country has its role to play in the global value chains as long as it can give full play to its comparative advantages. That said, if the Taliban can realize unity in the country, show its earnestness to seek development, and follow the basic norms of international relations, it could gradually win the recognition of the international community.

That is the way for it to build its political legitimacy, as well as the starting point for other countries, including China, and international organizations to extend a helping hand to rebuild the country. In other words, how the Taliban is treated will depend on how it treats the Afghan people, and to what extent it bids farewell to terrorism.

This will be a test for both the Taliban and the international community.

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