SAMFORD VALLEY - After living and working for long periods in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, I align myself with those who would consider themselves 'professional optimists.'
However, even my optimism was tempered when I read Tony Kevin's view of the Taliban and how it operates, 'The Afghanistan disaster, Russia & China'.
I spent almost three years in Afghanistan heading a UN agency involved in rebuilding the nation's educational base, in supporting the country's cultural efforts (museums etc), along with establishing a free press.
I arrived in Kabul in November 2001, just a few months after 9/11, so am aware of what the Taliban left behind.
I met the women school teachers who had courageously taught in clandestine 'home' teaching environments, only to be dragged out by Taliban thugs, beaten and thrown into prison.
I saw the Gandhara artifacts and other treasures which had been smashed to pieces with metal bars in the country's museums.
I walked the ground around the Bamiyan statues, those 6th century structures that were so cruelly destroyed by the Taliban, and I supported the male and female journalists and producers who had been barred from any kind of work, given that the press was outlawed.
This week, Radio Television Afghanistan, the national broadcaster, dropped all popular music broadcasts and changed its name back to Voice of Sharia. Does that give a hint of future developments?
While I fully respect the author's opinion, he might wish to reflect on his view that, "Afghanistan may well settle into a relatively moderate and modernising Government..."
For me, this was the first time I have ever seen the words 'moderate' and 'modernising' used in the context of the Taliban.
The other comment about "...a team of more secular Taliban leaders" also completely misjudges this body of zealots. A true oxymoron. And to add the rider "...as in Iran" is simply astonishing.
To also read that "Pakistan was a powerless and passive spectator" after the US intervention/invasion certainly gave many of us a chuckle.
The Taliban emerged in northern Pakistan in the 1990s and reports from the streets of Kabul this week indicate Afghans are hearing Taliban fighters speaking Pashto with Pakistani accents. Just a coincidence, I would imagine.
I'm very pleased to see that the author promotes the stamping out, by the Taliban, of the "very profitable opium trade." Absolutely.
However, it makes us all wonder who, then, was countenancing the trade when the Taliban was in total control of the country from 1996 to 2001.
"Saigon and Kabul tell the same story". No they don't. But that's for discussion another day.
One small aside for the author's attention: the citizens of Afghanistan are not Afghanis. They are Afghans. The currency is called the Afghani.
I remain hopeful and 'professionally optimistic', but I'm a realist. With Afghans being executed on the streets, gangs going from house to house in search of former government employees, and women forced from offices and schools, the starting point is not looking good.
When I arrived in Kabul in 2001, there was a well-known saying circulating that 'NATO has a clock, the Taliban has the time'.
It proved to be true.
Dr Martin Hadlow had a 16-year career with UNESCO, where he served in senior field postings in Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Jordan and Iraq. Following the events of 9/11, he volunteered to head UNESCO's humanitarian office in post-Taliban Afghanistan where he initiated and advised on programs in education (especially for children and women), communications & media, culture, and freedom of expression. Early in his career Martin was a distinguished broadcasting executive in Papua New Guinea and the Solomons. We worked together on many broadcasting projects including the establishment of Radio New Dawn FM in Bougainville. More recently he was Associate Professor and foundation Director of the Centre for Communication and Social Change at the University of Queensland - KJ