http://www.herald.co.zw/inside.aspx?sectid=29139&cat=10 The Herald Brown: When talking to the Taliban is easier By Caesar Zvayi MAYBE it has to do with the fact that he hails from a little Scottish village-turned-town that Gordon Brown behaves like a tribal chief keen to engage only other tribal leaders. Alternatively he recognises that is the level of his politics, after all he is so green that he is following to the latter Tony Blairs footprints, a man whose myopic politics saw him forced into early retirement. Whatever the explanation, Browns readiness to engage Taliban tribal leaders while abhorring dialogue with the Government of Zimbabwe to the extent of exiling himself on his own turf during the EU-Africa Summit, puts his political maturity in perspective. Alternatively, it may have to do with years of imbibing advice from his predecessor, Tony Blairs chief policy advisor, Robert Cooper, the man who authored that controversial paper, Re-Ordering the World: The long-term implications of September 11th in which he proposed that the West use double standards when dealing with countries outside Europe, that makes him so pretentious. Said Cooper: The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself. You may be wondering where all this is coming from, but havent you heard the latest faux pas from the king of blunders, Gordon Brown? At a time he was masquerading as a stickler for principles fulminating that he would not attend the EU-Africa Summit in Portugal on account of President Mugabes invitation, Brown was Nichodemously engaging the Taliban in talks aimed at brokering peace. What makes the saga even more shocking is that only two weeks earlier, Brown had told the House of Commons with his trademark dour visage intact that "we (British government) will not enter into any negotiations with these people (the Taliban)". It has, however, since emerged that Brown, with the help of his international spy arm, MI6 held a series of discussions, known as "jirgas", with "important motivating figures inside the Taliban" in an attempt to broker peace. Browns tete-a-tete with the Taliban forced the proxy regime of Hamid Karzai, to expel two British diplomats Mervyn Patterson, a British political adviser to the UN mission in Kabul, and Michael Semple, the Irish-born acting head of the EU mission from Kabul following their meeting with the Taliban in Helmand. The pair, which met Taliban leaders without the Karzai governments knowledge, was declared persona non grata and booted out of Kabul for threatening national security. While there may be nothing wrong in Browns decision to engage the Taliban in talks to find an amicable end to the conflagration in Afghanistan, particularly as successive British administrations were given to engaging in similar talks with the IRA, it is Browns hypocrisy that deserves condemnation. Here is a man at the helm of a government that not only broke the international law of succession by refusing to honour the obligations entered into with Zimbabwe by the Tory administration of Margaret Thatcher, but also continues spurning all efforts aimed at finding a lasting solution to the stand-off that enters its 11th year this year. It is not the Government of Zimbabwe which wronged Britain, but it is Britain which wronged Zimbabwe, firstly through colonialism, secondly by pillaging Zimbabwes resources, third by shirking obligations to help redress those wrongs, and fourth by trying to internationalise the resultant bilateral dispute by dragging in the EU and the USA into it. Today Zimbabweans, who deserve nothing but reparations from the British are reeling under the weight of illegal sanctions imposed to punish them for daring to lay claim to their God-given resources. In fact President Mugabe, who spent 11 of his 83 years in Rhodesian prisons, has since on behalf of the entirety of Zimbabweans indicated his willingness to talk to Britain to resolve the bilateral dispute, but Brown just like Blair before him stubbornly refuses to build bridges. President Mugabe is on record calling on London to build bridges with Harare, and when British ambassador, Andrew Pocock presented his credentials on February 16 2006, the President told Pocock: If you report as your government wants, why send you here? We want you here to help construct formidable bridges. We need a bridge with the British. We politicians come and go, but the people are there at all times. All that fell on deaf ears, as Pocock appears to think he is here to build the London bridge with the MDC. President Mugabe even appointed former Tanzanian president Cde Benjamin Mkapa one of the commissioners on Blairs Commission for Africa to mediate in dialogue between Britain and Zimbabwe, but the overture that had the blessing of the UN just like the hand of reconciliation extended to white Rhodesians was spurned. The EU-Africa Summit came, and again presented an opportunity for bilateral engagement on the sidelines but Brown would have none of it, and chose instead to fly to Basra, Iraqi to talk to, and congratulate British troops for valour in the unjust war that has been raging since March 2003. What makes one question Browns behaviour is that Iraq was the major reason why Blair was forced into early retirement yet Brown has no qualms trudging the same road to perdition. Brown claims he does not want to talk to the Government of Zimbabwe accusing it of human rights abuses and stifling democracy; yet all along, he has been busy discussing with the Taliban, whom his government and allies have dubbed "terrorists" and who, unlike Zimbabwe, are systematically decimating British troops on a daily basis. What is more the Talibans democratic and human rights record can never be equated to Zimbabwes, some background will help put Browns charade into perspective. The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 under the leadership of Mullah Omar, were denied UN recognition for alleged human rights abuses and their government only got diplomatic recognition from three states: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. According to Wikipedia, the Taliban implemented the strictest interpretation of Sharia law ever seen in the Moslem world and were particularly hard on women who were neither allowed to work nor be educated after the age of eight, and even then they were only allowed to study the Holy Quran. Those keen on education had to attend underground schools, where they and their teachers risked execution if caught. Women were not allowed to be treated by male doctors unless accompanied by a female chaperon, as a result many succumbed to preventable illnesses. They were barred from taking taxis without a "close male relative"; washing clothes in streams; or having their measurements taken by tailors. What is more households had to blacken their windows so that women would not be seen from outside. Both men and women were publicly flogged in the streets for violating any of the Talibans laws. Men in particular were not allowed to shave their heads or beards while women had to cover themselves entirely, save for the face, in public. The Taliban also banned movies, television, videos, music, dancing, hanging pictures in homes, and clapping during sports events, among other things. Electoral democracy was unknown as the Taliban did not hold elections, their explanation being: Sharia does not allow politics or political parties. That is why we give no salaries to officials or soldiers, just food, clothes, shoes and weapons. We want to live a life like the Prophet lived 1 400 years ago and jihad is our right. We want to recreate the time of the Prophet and we are only carrying out what the Afghan people have wanted for the past 14 years. Zimbabwe, on the other hand, holds elections every five years and enjoys diplomatic relations with almost all the 192 members of the UN, and the British themselves have maintained an embassy here since April 18 1980, when Zimbabwe was born. Diplomatic relations, by nature are predicated on mutual recognition, and by maintaining an embassy here, the British government recognises that there is a government in Harare it wants to relate with on a government to government basis. Yet Brown continues spurning all initiatives at dialogue claiming the Government of Zimbabwe abuses its own people. How then does he explain his Taliban liaisons? This writer will state for the record that he does not agree with the Anglo-Saxons that the Taliban are a terrorist group, far from it, he subscribes to the dictum one mans terrorist is anothers freedom fighter. The Taliban did not go to London to kill British troops, instead it is the Labour government that joined Bushs illegal war games on Taliban territory, and the Afghans, Taliban or no Taliban, have every right to drive the infidel armies from their lands. Two vital readings can be made from Browns latest gaucherie. Firstly Brown, like his predecessor Blair, is an inveterate liar, who spews fibs with a straight face. His response to opposition leader David Camerons question on December 12 confirms this as Brown exacted he would never negotiate with the Talibans, even though he was busy doing so. The question is if he can lie so shamelessly over an issue so close to Albions heart, given Londons experience with 07/07 (the bombings of July 7 2005), to what extent would he go over Zimbabwe, which has dared challenge the myth of white supremacy? Secondly, Londons fight with Zimbabwe is not about human rights and/or democracy, but has to do with Zimbabwes decision to break Britains stranglehold over the countrys resources. If the issue was about human rights and democracy, then Brown would never touch the Taliban with a 10-foot pole given their record on these values during their five-year reign at the helm of Afghanistan. One wonders whether Brown earned the PhD in history he holds, because if he did, he should have no problems understanding the problems in Zimbabwe, which are rooted in colonialism; after all his mentor Cooper maintains in the same controversial paper highlighted above that, to understand the present, we must first understand the past, for the past is still with us. But then, this writer is under no illusion that Brown is ignorant of the history of Harares stand-off with London. Brown knows he is wrong, his country is wrong but the Cooper doctrine of double standards seems to have become entrenched in British politics. He, however, needs to be warned, the world has become wiser, the EU-Africa summit was just the beginning, Zimbabwe will surely be imperialisms Waterloo.