Taliban is a Pashtun word meaning “Student”. It is a group of people in Afghanistan that emerged as a force for the Political and Islamic revolution in Afghanistan in 1994.
The Taliban movement was founded by Mullah Umer who fought alongside Mujahideen and who was popular for his bravery against the Soviet Union but then stood for the rights of Afghans when Mujahideen became warlords.
When the Soviet Union left Afghanistan, it created chaos for the people of Afghanistan as Mujahideen who were responsible for the Soviet withdrew were divided into different factions and started fighting against each other for gaining control of Kabul.
How many Taliban had died in Afghanistan War?
Who are these Taliban in Afghanistan whose number grew from some hundreds to thousands so fast that they were able to capture a whole country?
There are almost 60,000 fighters of the Taliban now in Afghanistan and since its emergence, about 51,000 have died fighting in Afghanistan.
Who is funding the Taliban in Afghanistan?
It is estimated that the Taliban in Afghanistan has about 1.5 billion USD as their annual income but the question that arises here is that how an unorganized group of people has a such large revenue?
There are three basic sources of Taliban Income:
- Opium and Narcotics
- Mines and Minerals
- Foreign Funding
The first and the most contributing source of Taliban is opium and Narcotics. Afghanistan is considered the largest source of drugs throughout the world.
There is a huge number of illegal laboratories in Afghanistan that convert this opium into Heroin and export it to the world to give the Taliban an annual revenue as big as 100-400 million USD.
The second source is mining. Afghanistan is a land rich in precious stones and ornaments and most of the mining in Afghanistan occurs through illegal ways and the Taliban receive a large amount of money through their mining.
Last but not least source of the Taliban’s income is Foreign funding. Afghanistan is said to receive a large amount of money from other countries.
America has accused several times many countries including Pakistan, Russia, Iran, and Saudia Arab for supporting Afghanistan for their movements. According to America, the Taliban receive an amount as huge as 500 million USD per annum as their foreign funding.
The Rise and Fall of The Taliban in Afghanistan
After the Taliban came into existence in 1994, their main demands were:
- Peace in Afghanistan
- Demilitarize the people
- An Islamic Government must be formed
Support of the Afghans
Afghan citizens supported the Taliban wholeheartedly and this helped the Taliban gaining power in Afghanistan.
In 1994, the Taliban took control of Kandhar, the second-largest city of Afghanistan in just two days under the supervision of Mullah Umer and captured the Tanks, weapons, and other military resources left behind by the Soviet Union.
As the Afghans were supporting the Taliban so, they captured 12 out of 31 provinces in just three months without any major coalition.
Students of many Madrassah joined the Taliban in Afghanistan in their movement for peace and in this way, many Southern parts of Afghanistan were conquered. Now, the Taliban headed towards Kabul.
Resistance of Ahmed Shah Masood
In 1995, the Taliban captured the headquarters of Mujahideen leader, Gulbuddin Hikmatyar but the other leader of the Mujahideen movement, Ahmad Shah Masood was also residing nearby Kabul.
Ahmad Shah Masood proved to be the greatest enemy of the Taliban and he was also the one who did not let the Taliban conquer the whole of Afghanistan.
In 1995, when the Taliban were about to enter Kabul, Ahmed Shah Masood attacked the Taliban and killed 3000 of the Taliban which forced Mullah Umer to withdraw his army from Kabul. This was the first shock for the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In 1996, the Taliban again attacked Kabul and fired 866 rockets on Kabul within just a month but still, Ahmed Shah Masood managed to defend these attacks.
Osama Bin Ladin Joining The Taliban
In these difficult times, the President of Afghanistan, Burhan Uddin Rabbani, and Ahmed Shah Masood headed towards an old friend of Afghanistan, Osama Bin Ladin.
In 1996, when Osama Bin Ladin was exiled from Sudan then he came to Jalalabad where he resided under the Taliban.
In the early times, Osama Bin Ladin was against the Taliban but afterward, he began to support the Taliban because the Taliban were following the Islamic rules.
Starting of the Taliban Reign in Afghanistan in 1996
When Osama started supporting the Taliban, he helped them take control of Kabul and Ahmad Shah Masood had to withdraw his forces from Kabul.
On 26 September 1996, the Taliban entered Kabul with heavy forces and this was supposed to be the peaceful end of the war in Afghanistan but it was not so.
On the same day, the Taliban killed the old communist leader of Afghanistan, Dr. Najibullah. This was shocking for the Afghans because a new extremist organization has come to power in Afghanistan.
Within 24 hours, the Taliban passed the brutal Islamic Laws in Afghanistan and started giving punishments on the roads, in front of the public.
- Radio Kabul was changed to Radio Shariah
- Many supports were banned
- Music was banned
- Television was banned
- Education for females was banned
What was Life in Afghanistan like under the Taliban regime?
As almost everything was banned there and people were forced to live with Islamic Laws and if they deny from it then cruel punishments were given to them.
The Taliban were patrolling on the roads on their vehicles with a white flag and this was terrorizing for everyone in Afghanistan.
Hands were cut off of minor thieves and people were killed for not following Shariah.
Women’s Rights under Taliban in Afghanistan
The Taliban regime was very critical for the women in Afghanistan as strict laws were implemented on them.
Women were banned from working outside the house and they have to reside in their home just to work there. Moreover, girls were not allowed to get an education in schools.
If any woman wants to go out then she had to wear a burqa. Otherwise, they must remain in their homes.
Northern Alliance vs the Taliban
When all of this was happening in Afghanistan, there was a man in Panjshir_Ahmad Shah Masood, who was involved in uniting different ethnic groups in the North of Afghanistan.
In this way, Ahmad Shah Masood succeeded in gathering the leaders of different ethnic groups including former communist general, Rashid Dostum, Abdullah Abdullah (Uzbek leader), Karim Khalili (Hazara leader), and Ayat Ullah Mohsinni (Shia leader), and laid the foundation of the Northern Alliance.
All these ethnic groups in Afghanistan who were fighting against each other had now aligned against the Taliban.
In 1997, the Taliban attacked Mazar i Sharif, where important leaders of the Northern Alliance were residing but the Taliban remained unsuccessful and lost many of their soldiers.
In 1998, the Taliban again attacked and gained control of Mazar i Sharif. The Taliban started killing Hazara people and took revenge for the 1997 attack losses.
The Hazara people fled from Mazar i Sharif and took refuge under Ahmad Shah Masood (greatest enemy of the Taliban).
When these conflicts were at their peak in Afghanistan then there was also a challenge for other countries to support or defend which group in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, Saudia Arab, and United Arab Emirates were the countries that accepted the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Ladin supporting Taliban
Northern Alliance had few but trained individuals against the Taliban which was a threat for the Taliban.
At the same time, the Taliban gave refuge to Osama Bin Ladin and he, in turn, gathered extremists from all around the world for the Taliban against Northern Alliance.
How the Taliban in Afghanistan were destroyed in 2001?
The Taliban remained in power in Afghanistan until 2001 when America started its operation against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
At first, the Taliban were not considered a danger for America until Osama Bin Ladin came to Afghanistan and got their support.
In February 1998, Osama Bin Ladin declared war against America and said that it is compulsory for every Muslim to kill Americans.
This thing offended Mullah Umer and he demanded from Osama Bin Ladin to show obedience towards the Taliban which was totally agreed by Osama Bin Ladin and he swore compliance towards Mullah Umer.
This again brought things to normal between Osama Bin Ladin and Mullah Umer but Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Ladin kept on producing difficulties for the Taliban as terrorist attacks were kept on rising in the world and Al Qaeda was blamed for these attacks.
Start of war by America against the Taliban
In August 1998, America fired a missile on the base camp of Osama Bin Ladin in Afghanistan where 21 of Osama’s people died but Osama Bin Ladin was not there at that time.
America claimed this attack was a result of the terrorist attack on the American Embassy in Kenya which was done with the help of Osama Bin Ladin.
But Mullah Umer completely denied these accusations and said Osama Bin Ladin can never do these things without his permission and called American President a liar.
America demanded from the Taliban to hand over Osama Bin Ladin but they refused and when Saudia Arab demanded the same thing then Mullah Umer said that why Saudia is following America’s Orders.
On 9 September 2001, Ahmed Shah Masood was killed by a terrorist attack during an interview and Osama Bin Ladin was accused of this attack to gratify the Taliban.
And after exactly two days, America faced the most severe terrorist attack of its entire history i.e. 9/11 attack on the world trade center.
America again demanded Osama Bin Ladin but again the Taliban refused to give him because they did not believe that Osama is involved in these attacks.
At last, America started its operation against the Taliban in October 2001. They started targeting Taliban camps and offices.
They destroyed the Taliban government in Afghanistan and took control of Kandhar where headquarter of Mullah Umer was established but both Mullah Umer and Osama Bin Ladin managed to escape.
Osama Bin Ladin died in 2011 by an American Operation and Mullah Umer died in 2013 by a natural cause.
The Taliban government remained for 5 years in Afghanistan until the Taliban were destroyed in 2001 by America by its operations with the help of NATO.
After the Taliban, America remained in Afghanistan for almost 20 years and kept on doing operations against the Taliban but had not remained completely successful.
In 2021, America withdrew its forces due to the Taliban like the Soviet Union withdrew their forces due to Mujahideen.
History has proved that whoever came to Afghanistan has not succeeded against the Afghans.
Now, the Taliban are again establishing their government after the American withdrawal but this time they are promising human rights for the people of every ethnic group in Afghanistan.