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Taliban Insurgency Explained

20 years of US Era ended, Afghanistan in crisis
By Nishica Choudhary

Worries pervaded over Afghanistan once again after the Taliban installed themselves in the presidential palace in Kabul, seizing the control over Afghanistan, two decades’ after being overthrown from power by the US military. Uncertainty reigned, fear intensified and havoc created among the civilians, many were flying out of the country to escape the brutal rule of the Taliban.

Thousands of Afghans in fear, despair and sadness of fleeing their own country, flooded Kabul’s international airport and swarming around a departing US military plane. President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the insurgents entered the city and the atmosphere of Kabul completely changed to chaos all over.  For innocent Afghans, all their hopes of building a life under the protection of their American allies were crushed.

The Islamic Emirate, as the Taliban calls itself, “will, as always, protect their life, property and honour, and create a peaceful and secure environment for its beloved nation,” it said, adding that diplomats and aid workers would face no problems.

US President Biden has faced rising criticism domestically as the Taliban have taken the city far more quickly than predicted and the US military left Afghanistan in a complete chaotic state. Biden said it is up to the Afghan military to hold its own territory. “An endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me,” Biden said.

Origin of Taliban in Afghanistan

Taliban, Pashto (“students”), an ultraconservative political and religious regime that emerged in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s by guerilla fighters, following the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the collapse of Afghanistan’s communist regime and the failure of civil order. The faction took its name from its membership, which consisted largely of students trained in madrasahs (Islamic religious schools) that had been established for Afghan refugees in the 1980s in northern Pakistan.

The Taliban emerged as a force for social order in 1994 in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar. By 1996, popular support for the Taliban from southern Pashtun ethnic group gain effective control of the country. However, many non-Pashtun ethnic groups resisted the Taliban who saw the rise of Pashtun hegemony in the country. By 2001, the Taliban controlled a small section of Afghanistan.

Taliban’s ideology and policies are about the enforcement of a strict version of sharia law. Total-exclusion of women from public life (not even working or studying) and confined to their homes unless accompanied by a male guardian, implementation of harsh criminal punishments and banning of western films and books.

The Taliban said earlier this year it wanted a “genuine Islamic system” for Afghanistan that would make provisions for women’s and minority rights, in line with cultural traditions and religious rules.

International Recognition

Only 3 countries had recognized the Taliban when it was in power from 1996 to 2001as the rightful government of Afghanistan, which were Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The United States and the United Nations imposed sanctions on the Taliban, and most countries show little sign that it will recognise the group diplomatically.

Other countries such as China have begun cautiously signalling they may recognise the Taliban as a legitimate regime.

While global powers are watching silently, the entire humanity is in grave danger due to constant threats of a Taliban-controlled regime in Afghanistan.  

How is the Taliban funded and armed?

Taliban gets its funding from various sources such as the opium trade, drug dealing and other crimes like smuggling. The group taxes and extorts farms and other businesses. Militants are sometimes involved in kidnapping for ransom. The group also gets donations from a wide array of benefactors who support its cause or view it as a useful asset. Arms are easy to come by in a region awash in them. Some are donated, others purchased. Many are stolen.

Ever since the Taliban were driven away from Afghanistan in 2001, Pakistan had been doing everything possible in terms of financial and political help to bring them back to power. Lately, Pakistan dreamt of creating central Asian connectivity and trade through CPEC and being a puppet to the Chinese dictated regime.

US withdrawal from Afghanistan

The United States and the Taliban started meeting in 2018 through Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and UAE, the only countries which had diplomatic ties with both parties. The meetings focused on the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and making the Taliban negotiate with the central government. Later, central government representatives for the first time held talks with the Taliban on the general principle for future reconciliation talks.

Despite grave concerns from Afghan officials over the government’s vulnerability to the Taliban without international support, the new US president, Joe Biden, announced in April 2021 that all American forces would leave the country by 11 September.

Taliban Resurgence

Encouraged by the withdrawal, the Taliban began seizing vast swathes of territory by late June and targeted provincial capitals. In many cases, the Taliban have been able to capture major cities without a fight as government forces surrendered or fled to avoid civilian casualties. The group is thought to now be stronger in numbers than at any point since they were ousted in 2001 – with up to 85,000 full-time fighters, according to recent Nato estimates. 

The advance has been more rapid than many had feared. General Austin Miller, the commander of the US-led mission in Afghanistan, warned in June that the country could be on a path towards a chaotic civil war, which he called a “concern for the world”.


For Biden, Afghanistan’s fall presents the images of defeat that he wanted to avoid. US military’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan has raised a lot of questions on Biden’s administration internationally. Images of Afghans clinging on US military transport shows how America’s military flying out of the country and Afghans hung on against all hope. Chaos in and around Afghanistan and the desperation of Afghans seeking flights out once again conveys that humanity has lost all its point and now it is just the “survival of the fittest”.

But the serious and urgent question here which needs to be addressed is that who is behind all this?

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