Linda Herrick has the following piece in the New Zealand Herald this morning:
Finding a way to deal with the Taliban
With New Zealand's SAS still committed to service in Afghanistan, the questions remain especially relevant. They included, "What on earth are the troops doing there?", "Who are we fighting?", "Are there any al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan?" and "What is the right direction to go in now that Osama bin Laden is dead?"
This might sound like Taleban 101 but these are issues which are constantly fudged. Some clarity does very nicely.
Fergusson, who has spent years covering events in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and who has had unprecedented access to Taleban leaders and civilians, gave considered responses to each one. He defined the who and why of the Taleban, quite distinct from foreign al-Qaeda, as many world leaders have mistakenly labelled them.
He explained how bin Laden, who fought the Soviet occupation, poured money into the coffers and found safe haven with the hospitable Pushtun Taleban, even if they didn't much trust him. The Taleban became a "law and order party" to get rid of the "stoned bandits". They originally had no ambition to rule the country, said Fergusson.
And the right direction now that the man used as the reason to invade has gone?
Not easy, but Barack Obama starting some dialogue with the Afghan leaders might be a start, said Fergusson.
More from Herrick at the New Zealand Herald.