Afghanistan is presently having the entire world’s attention as old conflicts resurface, this time with a much greater force. Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan fell on 15th August 2021 after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
While the tension in Afghanistan was existent for a long time, the recent and rapid takeover of the country by the Taliban and a grave threat to humanity looming in the air has got every single person across the world talking about the issue and thus you too must educate yourself about it. If you have reached here, it is definitely because you want to know what exactly is happening in this country. Scroll to read.
Origin and Rise of Taliban
The entire Afghanistan conflict prominently began taking shape when a group of young Afghan students formed the Taliban in 1994 to fight the Soviet forces who had invaded Afghanistan in the 1980s. These students had escaped to Pakistan during the Soviet occupation where they studied in Sunni Islamic schools. The name ‘Taliban’ was derived from the Arabic word talib meaning student. Taliban was founded by Mullah Omar and Abdul Ghani Baradar. This extremist Islamic rose to power when Afghanistan was caught in a chaotic civil war. Taking advantage of this turmoil, Taliban first took over the second-largest city, Kandahar of Afghanistan and almost succeeded in winning the civilians’ confidence by promising them safety and security. In 1996, the group then captured Kabul, the largest city in the country, marking its victory. Soon after that, Najibullah Ahmadzai, the last communist president of Afghanistan was publicly tortured and hanged to death.
Taliban then declared Afghanistan an Islamic emirate and began governing it by following the principles of Sharia law. Human rights soon started getting violated as Taliban imposed several restrictions on Afghans which included appointing religious police to suppress vices, banning all forms of art and entertainment like music, television, and kite-flying. The worst affected were women who had to compulsorily wear full-body covering burqa. They were banned from working or pursuing education. Those who dared to break the sharia law were subjected to horrible and brutal punishments.
What does the US have to do with Taliban rule in Afghanistan?
In September 2001, terrorist attacks took place in the US’s New York and Washington that claimed the lives of around 3,000 people. Terrorist group Al Qaeda which was headed by Osama Bin Laden was blamed for the attack. Osama Bin Laden was said to be residing in Afghanistan by the grace of Taliban which had become a haven for the terrorist group. When Taliban refused to hand over Osama to the US forces in spite of requesting to do so, the US invaded Afghanistan forcing Taliban out of power by carrying out bombing campaigns along with the help of its allies.
Soon after the takeover, an interim government was formed with Hamid Karzai as the head. A separate constitution too was promulgated that brought about various changes in the nation involving granting crucial rights to women as well. The US vowed to set up a democracy in the country.
Till that time, Taliban regrouped and began attacking the foreign government as well as the national government set up in Afghanistan. The past twenty years of conflict between these two nations has caused immense devastation and claimed the lives of over 40,000 civilians and saw the death of 64,000 Afghan military and police and more than 3,500 international soldiers.
In the fight against the Taliban, NATO allies had also joined hands with the US. In 2014 however, the NATO allies pulled their international forces out of the combat mission leaving the Afghan military alone to face the pressure from the Taliban. Taking advantage of this, Taliban gradually began procuring territories of Afghanistan.
In an attempt to resolve the years’ long conflict, America, as well as Taliban, agreed to conduct peace talks. After much negotiation, in 2020 both parties signed an agreement over the complete withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan leaving the Afghan government uninvolved in this decision. The peace deal also involved US agreeing to free some 5,000 Taliban prisoners. In return, the Taliban promised to take all possible steps to prevent any terrorist group or individual, including Al Qaeda, from using Afghanistan to create any kind of threat to the security of the US or its allies. Joe Biden, the newly elected American President also agreed to the deal which was signed by the former American President Donald Trump.
The peace deal however seems to have gone straight into the drain as violence, especially against women, in Afghanistan by the Taliban has erupted to a dangerous level, posing a severe threat to the Afghan government. As and when the US started pulling out its troops, the Taliban started taking over the Afghan territories rapidly, even capturing Kabul after the fleeing of Afghanistan’s president, thus declaring victory over the nation. Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar who is also the top leader of the Taliban is said to become the new head of Afghanistan.
After the Taliban takeover, the people of Afghanistan went into a frenzy, many desperately attempting to escape the country, many stocking up groceries and locking themselves up in their houses. The visuals of people running helter-skelter behind the US military aircraft to escape the country, the armed Talibanis spreading themselves in the presidential palace and the looming fear of torture and death in the Afghan air is heart-wrenching.
On the contrary, the Taliban has placed itself as having changed and has promised to restore peace and security in Afghanistan. Not just this, it has also agreed to let women/girls study as well as work but insisted on following the sharia law. This itself is contradictory and hence has failed to convince the world of the promises. Besides, given the fact that violence is still very much existent in the nation, situations don’t seem to get better for the Afghans.
The Joe Biden government is being heavily criticised and blamed for leaving Afghanistan high and dry to the mercy of the Taliban. The reason why Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan is of global concern is because, although Taliban claims that their only goal is to make Afghanistan an Islamic nation and not bother any other nations, experts express concerns over Afghanistan becoming a breeding ground of terrorism under the rule of Taliban. Analysts state that Al Qaeda and Taliban are inseparable and will always be. Thus, this can surely lead to the rise of terrorism and pose a threat to the neighbouring nations, western nations and their allies.