Zahir Let’s talk about my country. The first thing you have to know is that we are and always will be a mosaic of many different languages and cultures and ethnicities and approaches to Islam. the national anthem recognises 14 ethnicities: Pashtuns (Tajiks), Hazaras Uzbeks Balochis, Turkmens Nooristanis and Pamiris, Arabs Gujars Brahuis Qizilbash Aimaq, Pashai. Sunni (Sufi) and Shiite Moslems are our ancestors. People saw me and could relate to me. That is why the country was relatively peaceful before my idiot cousin toppled my leadership.
Pashtun Sunni Islamism and the Taliban are only one part of our mosaic. Since their defeat by the Americans 20-years ago, they have only been thinking about how to take back Afghanistan and not how to govern the Afghanistan of today.
Let me just tell you, Mr. Friedman. More than 70 percent of Afghanistan’s population are below 25 years old. Many of them don’t know anything about the Taliban, and they haven’t heard of Mullah Omr — much like those Iranian 20-somethings who have never heard the shah. They are a source of pain for Iran’s Islamic rulers. They were raised in another Afghanistan in a different time and will not give up the freedoms that they have enjoyed over the past 20 years, no matter how chaotic the country has become.
Mr. Friedman, there is a saying among tribes in this area of the globe that says: Me and my cousin against my brother. Me, my cousin and my brother against the outsider.
Americans were an outsider. However, the Taliban could always find a lot of active and passive relatives to help them get out. Now, they will have to deal now with their 14 ethnic cousins. The Taliban don’t know how to run a modern nation. Vietnam’s nationalist leader, Ho Chi Minh, spent his exile in Paris. These Taliban-terrorists studied, at most, in Pakistani madrasas that don’t even offer science instruction.
Then, there’s money. The American occupation was to Afghanistan what oil is to Saudi Arabia. You were like an open oil well that didn’t dry up. But now that you’re gone, so is all that income to run the government and pay salaries. What is the Taliban doing to replace it. There are only so many drugs you can smuggle to Europe. Sure, they will get some crumbs from China to keep them away Uyghurs. They all now know that there is no sucker superpower out there who wants to run this place.
Here is my prediction: The Taliban will either form a national unity government with all the major ethnic and tribal groups, under loose centralized control — and it will sort of hold the country together and be able to enlist foreign aid — or they won’t. If they do, President Biden’s bet on getting out will prove right — that America’s presence was actually preventing Afghans from compromising and coming together to govern themselves. They may choose to honor one of my family’s relatives as the symbolic unifier. I repeat: My reign corresponded with one of the most peaceful eras in Afghan history.