The Taliban or ‘student’ in Pashto language emerged in the early 1990s in Northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The Afghan Guerrilla’s called Mujahideen fought with the Soviet forces for about 9 years. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) provided them money to do the above. The Soviet pulled out from the region in 1989 and hence this was the starting of the worsen situations. By 1992, there were civil wars in the country to gain as much as control as possible. It was only in 1994, that saw the rise of Taliban with the members of the group being students of the most religious schools and most of them has already fought as Mujahideen. Their aim was to go to Kabul and announce an Islamic Government there. They promised the people to restore peace and security in the region and enforce the Sharia and Islamic law once in power.
By 1996, they seized the capital and declared Afghanistan as Islamic emirates and started imposing their strict interpretation of Islamic Law. Example, women weren’t allowed to go to school and certain types of clothes were to be worn.
Then the world was shocked with 9/11, the United States was looking of Osama Bin Laden who was hiding with Taliban’s help in Afghanistan. After refusing to hand him over to the US, they invaded in Afghanistan during the Presidency of Bush on 7th October 2001.
Within a couple of months, Taliban were forced out and a new interim Government came into power. Three years later came the constitution and Hamid Karzai became the elected President.
Taliban on the other hand regrouped to make sure the foreigners are removed out of the country and the Islamic State is established. According to the Watson Institute, more than 40,000 Afghan civilians and more than 3,500 International soldiers have been killed while according to the Brown University data presents a picture with more than 64,100 Afghan military and police being dead. Between 2002 to 2020, US have spent $ 815.7 B on war and $ 130. 5 B reconstruction projects but Afghanistan is still very unstable and Taliban is forcing its way in.
Today Taliban has more than 85,000 full time soldiers and training camps across the country. While there have been continues efforts to control, their area has only been growing. One fifth of Afghan’s districts are controlled by them and other halves have strong presence of them. The roads and highways play a major role in Afghanistan, whoever controls those, controls the country and the major parts of these roads come under the area with Taliban’s presence.
Taliban Leadership Structure
Taliban also has been a rich organisation with the data by UN Security Council their revenue is around $ 1.5 B a year and they get this money from drug trade, Mining and trading minerals, tax collection system and last but not the least are the abroad funding.
The Taliban has banned television, music and Cinema and disapproved of girls over going to school. They have been accused of various human rights and cultural abuses. They have introduced strict punishments like public execution of convicted murderers and adulterers and amputations for those found guilty of theft. Over the years, International Community has tried to bring Taliban and the Afghan Government on a single table for discussion yet these have failed miserably.
President Joe Biden announced in April 2021 that the withdrawal of 2500 American forces will be completed September 11, 2021. Simultaneously, NATO announced that the alliance will be also withdrawing its 7000 troops from Afghanistan. The US administration signed a peace deal with Taliban last year under Trump administration that the withdrawal will be complete by this May 1, yet due to some delay it will start the withdrawal from May1. The role and force of US forces has been rapidly decreasing in Afghanistan. Barak Obama started the process, Trump gave it the momentum and Joe Biden will put this long mission to an end.
The prospects for peace and stability are not looking great. Since the announcement of the US and NATO forces withdrawal there has been 30% increase in civilian killing and also targeted killing have continued especially of activists and journalists. The targets like journalists, judges, peace activists, women in positions of power – appeared to suggest that the Taliban had not changed their extremist ideology, only their strategy. The commander of the US-led mission in Afghanistan, General Austin Miller has warned about the situation in the country and that it is a major concern for the world. The US intelligence has warned of complete collapse of the Afghan Government and Taliban gaining free access to the whole region.
Washington although has suggested that some amount American troops and special operation forces will continue to be in Afghanistan yet the number is still not decided. Critical intelligence will also be present so that access of Taliban or any other group is not beyond access in the region.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen during the interview with major media company mentioned that the group will have the right to react if US keeps its troops in Afghanistan after September11. With regards to the 650 soldiers being left behind, it will be regarded as the breach of the agreement signed between the two countries.
Although Taliban has promised not letting the region to be used by Al Qaeda as their operation or training grounds yet this will be only seen with time how true will it stand. After years of war, the soldiers are finally coming home in US which will be a major sense of relief for the families. The withdrawal still have a little more than 2 months to wrap up and the establishment of peace and stability is still a long process in Afghanistan and after September this will be a road where the Afghan Government will have to travel the journey alone.