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INTERVIEW: World needs to watch Taliban over next month

  • August 18, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 10:35 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Aug. 18 (Jiji Press)–The international community should keep an eye on the Taliban’s moves over the next month, Hiromi Nagakura, a Japanese photographer well-versed in Afghan affairs, said in a recent interview with Jiji Press.

“It would take a month” to see if the insurgent group, which retook control of Afghanistan some two weeks ahead of the deadline for U.S. troops’ withdrawal, will again rule the West Asian country with brutality, Nagakura, 68, forecast.

“I have a slight hope that the ongoing negotiations between senior officials of the collapsed Afghan government and the Taliban will end successfully to prevent persecution of women and killing of citizens (who have cooperated with U.S. forces in the country),” he said.

But he also noted that brutal acts may be seen all over the country except for Kabul because outside the capital would be disorderly.

Meanwhile, Nagakura, who has published a photo book fearing famed anti-Soviet and -Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud and is running a nongovernmental organization to support children’s education in Afghanistan, did not rule out the possibility of the Taliban having dialogue with the international community.

“The Taliban is not a monolith, comprising those who have studied abroad and those who prefer cooperative approaches, as well as extremists obsessed with the idea of sweeping away Western ideologies by force,” he said.

“Such extremists see no problem antagonizing most of the world as long as they have support from neighboring Pakistan, China and Russia, and the important question is how many senior Taliban members find it necessary to avoid being isolated from the rest of the world for survival,” Nagakura went on to say. “I hope members who have lived in the capital or abroad will enhance their presence in the group and lead things to a good direction.”

As for action the international community including Japan should take toward the Taliban, he underscored the importance of opposing persecution of citizens and demanding a democratic election.

“If the Taliban refuses to do so, it should be clearly stated that aid to Afghanistan will be suspended,” he said, stressing that countries with deep ties with Afghanistan such as Japan, the second largest aid provider to the country after the United States and popular among people there, “should say what should be said.”

He also pointed out that if Afghanistan becomes a hotbed and export base for extremism, Japan would eventually pay for it.

Nagakura observed that the 20-year U.S. military commitment in the Islamic country after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks was “meaningful in that it allowed Afghan women to go outside, attend school and have dreams.”

But he quickly added that the United States should have supported the country more appropriately to ensure the ever-lasting protection of women’s rights there.

“By ignoring the corruption and misconduct within the government and focusing on maintaining appearances, the United States failed to make democracy take root in Afghanistan,” Nagakura criticized.

He also blamed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for fleeing the country as soon as the Taliban entered Kabul despite his initial pledge that he would fight to the end.

“People will not follow a person without great mental strength, leadership and personality,” he noted.

“It’s sad that more and more people with abilities to rebuild the country and those with cultural knowledge are leaving the country,” Nagakura said, expressing concerns over the future of Afghanistan.

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