To sell occupation of Afghanistan as part of the US led Western coalition destructive wars for over 25 years on the Muslim world, Neocons promoted to Westerners that it was to establish democracy (which they could manipulate). However, this perspective was not fully embraced by Afghans who refrained from strongly supporting the US-installed, corrupt Afghan government. Further, would you expect to change ingrained cultural mores of battle-hardened guerillas on women’s rights, facing the muzzle of a gun?

The overriding issue today is preventing further harm to Afghan-resident citizens, who experienced 40 years continuous warfare, and whose well-being Gallup Poll surveys demonstrate, has slumped to abysmal levels. This statement applies to all – Hazaras, Pashtuns, Tajiks etc.

We shouldn’t be distracted by those who wish to keep the conflict raging, rather than addressing dire needs of long-suffering Afghans.

Following rapid takeover by the Taliban, we saw their relative restraint shown to diverse groups, and in facilitating the emigration of erstwhile adversaries.

It is likely the Taliban will shut down opium production facilitated by the former government, which will save countless lives. Taliban also provides a higher level of statewide security.

However, the Taliban are not yet reflecting Islamic teachings in many of their practices.

Probably, the best way to influence their leadership, often raised on a narrow rigid view of Islam, is for Ulama to engage them and draw attention to their many un-Islamic practices.

As an example, Iranian women were notably successful after the 1979 Iranian Revolution in engaging the Ulama, putting forward persuasive fiqhi arguments, thereby bringing positive change in women’s treatment.

AFIC’s initiatives in trying to engage with Taliban leadership should be supported, perhaps in consultation and inclusion of representatives from the Australian Afghan community including women.

There should not be any ill-advised government censorship over zealously-protected freedoms of speech in Australia, especially in preventing Muslim scholars persuading Taliban leadership to a softer, compassionate, more inclusive governance of their majestic country and its courageous citizens.

In this respect, AFIC appointed Grand Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Abdul Quddoos Al-Azhari, in his talk prepared in advance for the cancelled webinar, requested the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan: firstly, to educate all Afghans without any gender-based discrimination; secondly, to provide equal treatment of citizens without discrimination based on gender or clan, treating them honourably and compassionately; and thirdly, to ensure justice in providing people their legitimate Islamic rights, including their right to choose representatives, and governance through a Shura’ process.

As Islam reformed pre-existing Arabian Jahiliya society, so there is no place in Afghanistan for Asabiyyism tribal/ethnic solidarity that excludes participation of all communities.

Also keep in mind that a recent public debate was won by the team advocating engagement with Taliban.

The Australian Institute of International Affairs NSW hosted a debate that “Australia should establish full diplomatic relations with the Taliban government in Afghanistan.”

Adjudicator, Kevin Boreham, awarded victory to those affirming that dealing pragmatically with the government in effective power in Afghanistan would help Afghans by promoting better conditions and support Australian objectives, facilitating humanitarian aid, assisting refugees and preventing its use as a terrorism base.

If Taliban’s current refusal to open female high schools is due to financial shortfalls, the Australian Government could provide foreign aid to cover emergency operating funds.

We call on Islamic scholars worldwide to reach out to the Taliban and help persuade them to implement teachings befitting  a state calling itself Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan – to protect all Afghan citizens and shows the true face of Islam, not one coloured by just Pashtun lenses.