The BBC has published an article in which David Loyn answers questions from the public about the Taleban. It starts badly and doesn't get much better. Here are some extracts and some commentary:
The BBC's David Loyn had exclusive access to Taleban forces mobilised against British forces in Helmand Province in southern AfghanistanThese aren't "forces" these are terrorists because they target civillians as well as combatants. And the term "mobilised" implies that they were sent out by others. Perhaps Mr Loyn thinks the Taleban were mobilised by the people?
Q: In the UK, the Taleban are depicted as a harsh oppressive regime which ruled by fear. You associate closely with them. What are your feelings about them?
Raymond Mcalpine, Gravesend, UK
As far as their regime was concerned, it is worth remembering that it was popular in many parts of the country - particularly the Pashtun rural areas in the south, although deeply resented in the north, the west and urban areas everywhere. It was popular because it was seen as not corrupt, and brought law and order so it was possible for Afghans to travel safely around the country in ways that have not been possible before or since. Their new leadership do admit that some mistakes were made in terms of the harshness of their rule, but they have not changed their profoundly conservative religious austerity, nor their desire to impose severe restrictions on women.
Note the stress on their popularity and lack of corruption. In fact, Mr Loyn doesn't answer the question. Are they "harsh and oppressive"? Well, they've made "some mistakes".
But on a separate point, 'our taxes' are paying for 'our soldiers' to fight a difficult conflict, and I rather wanted to know what they are up against and why.Yes, they really did use quotation marks! And finally:
Q: Do the Taleban foresee a time when they will lay down their arms and stop fighting? What is their objective and can they see a time when there will be peace?The first part is accurate even if Mr Loyn doesn't understand that. Just as communism needed to spread communism across the entire world before peace was achieved, so too does radical Islam need to spread Islam across the globe before they can settle down to "the way of peace". As to blaming the international community for not congratulating the Taleban on being able to oppress half of the population under their control and provide training to the world's terrorists; that is simply disgraceful.
Edward McCarthy, Edinburgh, UK
'Islam' means 'the way of peace'. That is their dream. But it may not be achievable in any normal human context, Edward. Rather like the dreams of communism the struggle may be as important as the result. They were very surprised that when they brought relative security to most of the country in 1996 the international community did not congratulate them.