ISLAMABAD / TORONTO — On the same day government buildings across the U.S. lowered flags to half-mast, the Taliban raised its flag above the presidential palace in Kabul.
Americans spent Saturday remembering the Sept. 11 attacks, while the people of Afghanistan reflected on 20 years of war and the sudden return of the Taliban. Now that U.S. forces are no longer in the country, many have been left wondering what comes next.
One man who spoke to Reuters offered his blessings to the Taliban if they can bring peace. Another man said at least now that the U.S. is gone, there is security and the killing has stopped.
It’s unlikely the Taliban would have survived all this time without the support of Pakistan, which was often a shadowy source of money, weapons and military training. Pakistan’s military intelligence chief has even been pictured sipping tea with Taliban leadership.
“Pakistan has a history, a relationship with the Taliban,” Pakistani journalist Haroon Rashid told CTV National News. “[The Taliban takeover] wasn’t as unexpected or unpleasant in some circles in Pakistan.”
The people of Pakistan are far less fearful of the Taliban, at least compared to much of the rest of the world.
If the Taliban are doing well in their country, there should be no problems in Pakistan, one man told CTV National News.
Another family shared the same hope, as long as the Taliban stay where they are.
“I’m with the Taliban,” one woman told CTV National News, but when asked if the group were in power in Pakistan, she responded, “Oh, no, I don’t want that.”
The 9/11 attacks brought two decades of relentless turmoil to this part of the world. What Pakistan wants most of all now is a friendly neighbour, and that ball is in the Taliban’s court.