Britain's chief of the defence staff Nick Carter sparked online debate after he asked the international community to give the insurgents some space to form a new government in Afghanistan.
The world should give the Taliban the space to form a new government in Afghanistan and it may discover that the insurgents cast as militants by the West for decades have become more reasonable, the head of the British army said, sparking online controversy.
Nick Carter, Britain's chief of the defence staff, said he was in contact with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai who Carter said would meet the Taliban on Wednesday.
"We have to be patient, we have to hold our nerve and we have to give them the space to form a government and we have to give them the space to show their credentials," Carter told the BBC.
"It may be that this Taliban is a different Taliban to the one that people remember from the 1990s."
However, some British lawmakers, journalists and army veterans were doubtful about Carter's observation about the militant group.
Why is Nick Carter describing the Taliban as if they'r the Dukes of Hazzard. https://t.co/WEP8Eg5LMR— Richard Chambers (@newschambers) August 19, 2021
"We may well discover, if we give them the space, that this Taliban is of course more reasonable but what we absolutely have to remember is that they are not a homogenous organisation — the Taliban is a group of disparate tribal figures that come from all over rural Afghanistan."
Carter said the Taliban were essentially "country boys" who lived by the so called "Pashtunwali", the traditional tribal way of life and code of conduct of the Pashtun people.
Am seeing/hearing a lot of angry reaction from veterans and those still serving about Gen Sir Nick Carter’s comments on the #Taliban this morning— Jonathan Beale (@bealejonathan) August 18, 2021
Fascinating @NickFerrariLBC interview with Gen Sir Nick Carter, Chief of Britain’s Defence Staff, on @LBC just now: “We’re collaborating very effectively on the ground with the Taliban” and there’s real prospect of a “reasonable, inclusive government” forming in Afghanistan. 🇬🇧🇦🇫— Peter Allen (@peterallenparis) August 18, 2021
UK lawmaker Peymana Assad called the interview "embarrassing for General Nick Carter" on Twitter.
"How many British soldiers died fighting the Taliban? Now you’re saying they aren’t the enemy? So who is the enemy?," she added.
"People should not be seduced by these smooth words,” Charlie Herbert, a former British army major general who served in Afghanistan and also worked as a senior NATO adviser, told Sky News.
"The Taliban need international recognition. They’ve taken power by force and they’re now desperate for international recognition, from China, from Russia and the West, they need that. So of course they’re going to use these charming words about equal opportunities for women," he said.
Herbert said there is no evidence the Taliban has moderated.