Former feared Taliban enforcer now promoting peace in Afghanistan
He was one of the most feared figures of the Taliban government: a scowling cleric whose Islamic vigilante squads roamed the capital, shoving stragglers toward mosques at prayer time, dragging men off to jail for listening to radios and beating women they caught chatting with shopkeepers writes Pamela Constable for the Washington Post.
At 60, Maulvi Qalamuddin still wears the thick black beard and imposing turban that defined him during his tenure as deputy minister for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice. But his rhetoric has mellowed since Taliban rule ended in 2001, and last year he was named by President Hamid Karzai, along with five other former Taliban officials, to the High Peace Council set up to negotiate with the insurgency.
Now the Karzai government, in a further bid to bolster the fledgling peace process, has asked the U.N. Security Council to remove Qalamuddin and 19 other former Taliban members from a sanctions list that has prevented them from traveling or sending money abroad since 1999. The United Nations is expected to announce a decision within weeks.
“All human beings need peace, even if they were once enemies,” the former minister said during an interview this week, pouring tea for visitors at his modest home in the capital. He criticized the revived Taliban forces for “un-Islamic” actions such as suicide bombings yet said he fully supported Karzai’s plan to welcome all but their most violent leaders into a future government.
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