“On Monday Oxfam brings out a report urging the international community not to trade in women’s rights in a peace settlement with the Taliban. It calls for a longterm commitment to support women. I admire and understand the sincerity of their intentions but question whether women’s rights should be an obstacle in the process of a settlement. And I’m sceptical as to whether foreign powers are in a position to impose negotiating terms. A degree of security in Afghanistan – it hardly merits the word peace – may cost women’s rights as it did in the 1990s, and many Afghan women may regard that as tragic but necessary.”
Well, what can one say? I am sceptical as to whether Hamid Karzai, for all his recent epiphanic scepticism regarding the value of negotiation with the Taliban, will finally pull his finger out and do something constructive for his benighted country, rather than concentrate on serving his and his cronies’ political and financial interests. But then, for good or ill, Karzai is the democratically-ish elected president of Afghanistan, and is at least in a position to do something.
Madeleine Bunting, on the other hand, is but a haughty wibbler with an aversion to commas, writing in a bourgeois newspaper that is losing money and shedding paying readers by the winebar-load.
A truly “excruciating dilemma”, as our Maddy so rightly notes.