Many of the tenets of the Taliban were only an extreme form of an ideology that had its roots in the traditional practices and customary laws of some tribal groups. Inspired by tribal codes and principles of restorative justice, many of the customary laws of Afghanistan, especially the Pashtunwali (the unwritten code of honour of the Pashtun people practiced even today), would be considered abhorrent and a complete violation of basic principles of internationally recognised human rights including the right to life and liberty.

The use of women as private property in dispute settlement; taking lives in exchange for injury or murder; treating the sheltering of a battered woman as a kidnapping which demands retribution through murder; all of this did not begin or end with the Taliban. Nor did the practice of summary or public executions. The brutality that is now seen to characterise the Taliban regime was evident in the behaviour of the ‘commanders’, ‘warlords’ and power brokers, with long years of conflict having brutalised the fighting men and having entrenched the most egregious aspects of the ‘spoils of war’ as routine practices.

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