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'Peace deal' with Taliban dicey without continued US troops in Afghanistan

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By Trudy Rubin

In 1999, I travelled to Afghanistan when the Taliban controlled the country.

Swathed in shawls, exiting my taxi only when sneaking into buildings, I visited secret girls' schools in private apartments, where 10-year-olds braved beatings to learn how to read.

I interviewed former female university professors who, under the Taliban, could rarely leave their homes, and then only when shrouded beneath a tent-like burka.

And I interviewed then-Taliban deputy health minister Mohammed Abas Stanekzai, who is now one of the negotiators of a "peace deal" with the United States that will probably be signed on Feb. 29, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

So, it is useful to recall what Stanekzai said at the time. He firmly defended excluding girls from schools and women from any Kabul hospital except the sole facility where the Taliban permitted female doctors to work. And women could seek treatment only if accompanied by a male relative, even though many war widows had none.

I can't help recalling Stanekzai's remarks as this "peace process" play out. Much has changed in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, but there's little sign the Taliban have changed their core positions _ on women or much else. So don't be fooled by any upbeat administration rhetoric _ U.S. talks with the Taliban........

© The Korea Times