Weary of war, the American public has told pollster after pollster that it wants to bring the troops home from Afghanistan.
After almost a decade of having military forces there, Americans can come up with myriad reasons to leave. But we were all reminded this week of the reasons why the U.S. and its allies are there to begin with.
We should not forget that the Taliban, the religious rulers of Afghanistan, were willing partners and hosts to terrorist group al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks here in the U.S. At the same time, the Taliban’s corrupted interpretation of Islam was holding its own citizens, especially its women, hostage.
In the time since, the Taliban’s view of the world has not changed.
That’s why the Pakistan Taliban sent a gunman to assassinate a 14-year-old girl. Malala Yousafzai was shot while on her school bus.
Her “crime?” Malala was an advocate for girls’ education and had gotten accolades in Pakistan and internationally for her efforts. In the eyes of the Taliban, that made her a symbol of “infidels and obscenity” and a threat.
After the shooting, as she struggled to survive, the Taliban said that if this attempt to kill her failed, they would try again.
“The cowards who attacked Malala and her fellow students have shown time and again how little regard they have for human life and how low they can fall in their cruel ambition to impose their twisted ideology,” said Pakistan’s top military official, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
“Cowards” doesn’t quite cover this or other acts of terrorism on innocents.
We can’t help but think that the resurgence of the Taliban is the result of the George W. Bush administration’s decision to turn toward Iraq rather than finishing the job of clearing out the Taliban. While it is quite possible a number of its followers would have survived, we would like to think that had the U.S. stayed focused on them and on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the organization would be too fragmented to act today.
As the U.S. moves toward removing its forces from Afghanistan and the region, we must continue to make it clear that such attacks can only be viewed as barbaric and unacceptable and echo Gen. Kayani in promising that they will not go unpunished.