The “Nelson Mandela Moment” for Afghanistan

Few moments in history offer the opportunity that recent developments in Afghanistan have made available to further world peace, provided we are prepared to grab it in the path of Nelson Mandela.  These include:

  1.  stopping denigration of a superpower like the US and its President Biden for pulling out of Afghanistan.  It was an extremely difficult, but courageous step that needed to be taken.  Instead, they should be commended for taking this action.
  2. showing appreciation for the Taliban too, for the maturity they have shown in this whole process.  Just like the US, it has not been easy for them, and avoiding the mass bloodshed that could have happened took a lot of mature thinking, discipline, and responsibility. They need encouragement and not threats of censure or warnings that could be counterproductive and push them into further radicalization.  It could in fact lead to destabilization of the region and the world.

The world’s focus should now be on the impending calamity of biblical proportions (widespread famine, deprivation, and disease) that Afghanistan will be facing, as pointed out by Jon Stoltenberg, Refugee Council of UN, as well as its Secretary-General. To overcome this imminent catastrophe, Afghanistan needs the world’s understanding and help, principally financial.  The fact remains that the richer Muslim countries alone can easily put up the 5-10 billion dollars required to meet this need, but there is little doubt that the West and others worldwide would happily chip in.

Such a step would generate the self-reinforcing positive outcomes needed, which may be called the “Mandela Moment”.  Not only will it help clear the image of the Taliban as a supporter and protector of terrorism, but it will also strike at the root of the false and self-fulfilling concept of “Clash of Civilizations” propounded by Huntington.

For a change, let compassion and mercy be the guiding light shown to all a la Nelson Mandela rather than settling scores and taking revenge for past grievances.  However, accountability must prevail, and the clear culprits must be made to pay.  Thus, the hundreds of millions of dollars that were allegedly stolen and siphoned away by former Afghan leaders should be recovered and returned to the Afghan people.