The deal signed this weekend between the United States and the Taliban prompted me to ask the Monitor’s Scott Peterson about a moment he remembers well: the day the Taliban fell after 9/11. He was among the first Americans to get into Kabul, driving south from the Panjshir Valley. And what he witnessed that day framed the forces he’s seen at work since.
“First thing, we came across a big crowd that was attacking a member of Al Qaeda,” Scott recalls. “It was a level of brutalized violence we certainly have seen in the years since. But that same day, we came across a wedding. Women who had not been able to be out in public were dancing in the street, and the level of joy was profound. It showed me how capable Afghans were of resurrecting themselves after all that time of darkness.”
Now, says Scott, who is in the country, people feel deep uncertainty, asking why the U.S. is legitimizing the group that caused them such misery.
But the clock has not just been turned back 19 years. “Women’s liberation, civil society groups, speaking freely – all that has been taken as far as it ever has been in Kabul,” Scott says, though “we’re still at prologue, with colossal hurdles to go.” Still, as his Friday story reported, many Taliban have changed as well. “We are kind of done with war,” they told him.
Get unlimited Monitor journalism.Learn more