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News Opinion

Talking to the Taliban

After 12 years of fighting, the Taliban in Afghanistan have announced they are ready to talk peace with the United States. The Taliban opened a political office in Qatar. The talks will take place there, but without the Afghan government, which is refusing to take part in the "peace" talks.

President Barack Obama says there will be "a lot of bumps in the road" during the talks. More like sinkholes. The history of talks with Middle East terrorist groups, apparently, has taught us little. It appears such groups use talks like these to mostly re-arm and/or advance their cause until they can either get back to the killing field or enforce their political and religious will on the masses.

What is there to talk about with the Taliban? How can any "infidel" Western diplomat believe anything they say about "peace," since their definition of the word is likely much different than ours?

Before 9/11, I attended an event in New York hosted by some female celebrities who wished to draw attention to the plight of Afghan women. I heard stories from female doctors and teachers about how the Taliban had made women's lives miserable. They were not permitted to leave the house, unless accompanied by a male relative. A male relative had to deposit their bus fare in the coin box. Women were banned from working in public places. Women had to wear a burqa if they went outside, and the windows in their homes had to be covered so no one could see inside. Girls and women were not allowed to attend publicly funded schools.

That is only a partial list of restrictions. According to various reports, there are others: Women are denied access to basic health care, but when they do get it, they cannot be treated by male doctors (this restriction extends to children); no exposed ankles, no laughing loudly or wearing shoes that make noise when they walk, no white socks, no makeup or nail polish. Women cannot use public taxis without being accompanied by male relatives, and they must use special female-only buses whose windows are draped with curtains so no one on the street can see the passengers. Failing to adhere to these rules leads to public beatings, whippings, verbal abuse and even death.

There's more, but I don't have the space. According to RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, the Taliban have also issued a general ban -- for both men and women -- on listening to music, watching movies, television and videos or celebrating the traditional new year. If you were given a non-Islamic name, you have to change it to an Islamic one. Certain games are banned, including kite flying. "Non-Muslim minorities must wear a badge or stitch a yellow cloth onto their clothing to differentiate them from the majority Muslim population," writes RAWA. Now what does that remind you of?

If the Taliban view things like exposed ankles and white socks as horrors offensive to their god, how do so-called infidels, whom they consider worthy of death, negotiate with them? If such twisted ideas are accepted as doctrine, what could the Taliban possibly give up in negotiations ... and in exchange for what? Furthermore, if we reach an agreement with them, how will we know they're even telling the truth?

Cal Thomas' column is distributed by Tribune Media Services. Readers may email him at tmseditors@tribune.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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