When the Taliban first sacked Kabul 25 years ago, the group declared that it was not out for revenge, instead offering amnesty to anyone who had worked for the former government. “Taliban will not take revenge,” a Taliban commander said then. “We have no personal rancor.” At the time of that promise, the ousted president, Mohammad Najibullah, was unavailable for comment. The Taliban had castrated him and, according to some reports, stuffed his severed genitals in his mouth, and soon after, he was strung up from a lamppost.
The reports from Kabul are probably more reassuring to those unfamiliar with this history. The Taliban has once again declared a general amnesty, and asked everyone to show up for work in the morning and prepare to unite behind a Taliban government that will rule according to Islamic law—but perhaps, the group has suggested, not in the harsh manner that made it infamous during its rule from 1996 to 2001.