Talking to the Taliban

On the podcast: American journalist Ashley Jackson wanted to learn more about Taliban leaders. So she donned a burqa and knocked on their doors.

By , the executive editor for podcasts at Foreign Policy.
People walk near destroyed houses after a Taliban attack in Ghazni, Afghanistan on Aug. 16. (Zakeria Hashimi/AFP/Getty Images)
People walk near destroyed houses after a Taliban attack in Ghazni, Afghanistan on Aug. 16. (Zakeria Hashimi/AFP/Getty Images)
People walk near destroyed houses after a Taliban attack in Ghazni, Afghanistan on Aug. 16. (Zakeria Hashimi/AFP/Getty Images)

Ashley Jackson had sensed the Taliban was changing. She’d been an aid worker in Afghanistan for years helping civilians overcome horrific violence—often perpetrated by the group. But from Afghan friends and others, she was hearing another story. In parts of the country, the Taliban had taken on the mundane tasks of governance. To see it for herself, Jackson spent much of the past year crisscrossing the country in a Toyota Corolla, talking to local Taliban leaders. On our podcast, she describes what she found out—and what it’s like to be a Western woman on the road in Afghanistan.

Jackson is a fellow at the Overseas Development Institute and the author of a piece on Afghanistan in the Fall issue of Foreign Policy magazine, “The Taliban Fights for Hearts and Minds.”

Ashley Jackson had sensed the Taliban was changing. She’d been an aid worker in Afghanistan for years helping civilians overcome horrific violence—often perpetrated by the group. But from Afghan friends and others, she was hearing another story. In parts of the country, the Taliban had taken on the mundane tasks of governance. To see it for herself, Jackson spent much of the past year crisscrossing the country in a Toyota Corolla, talking to local Taliban leaders. On our podcast, she describes what she found out—and what it’s like to be a Western woman on the road in Afghanistan.

Jackson is a fellow at the Overseas Development Institute and the author of a piece on Afghanistan in the Fall issue of Foreign Policy magazine, “The Taliban Fights for Hearts and Minds.”

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