The insurgents are awaiting their second tenure amid the US-led Nato pullout after a 20-year-long mission
With all eyes on Afghanistan for the past few days, the developments on Sunday guided its unrest to an utterly unwanted conclusion: an inevitable return of the Taliban to state power.
Tension ran high all day long as the hardliner Islamists entered Kabul and started discussing a ‘peaceful transfer of power’ after continued escalations through which they recaptured many provincial and key cities.
In the evening, it was reported that a former minister could lead an interim administration in the war-torn country, paving the way for the insurgents to take the helm of Afghanistan for the second time since their emergence.
In fact, this is going to be their first rule after the US-led Nato pullout after a 20-year-long mission. The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when a US-led invasion toppled the regime for providing refuge to Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
How it all started
The Taliban emerged in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s following the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the collapse of Afghanistan’s communist regime, and the subsequent breakdown in civil order, according to Britannica.
By late 1996, popular support for the Taliban among Afghanistan’s southern Pashtun ethnic group, as well as assistance from conservative Islamic elements abroad, had enabled the group to seize Kabul, and gain effective control of the country.
Resistance to the Taliban continued, however, particularly among non-Pashtun ethnic groups in the north, west, and central parts of the country. By 2001, the Taliban controlled all but a small section of northern Afghanistan.
The six-year regime
In the process to grab the state power, they hanged the then president, Najibullah Ahmadzai, and declared Afghanistan an Islamic emirate, thus, started imposing their own strict interpretation of Islamic law.
They were recognised by only three countries – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Pakistan, an Al Jazeera article reads.
Despite gaining some primary popularity, they never eased restrictions, which they initially said had been done to ensure that the crimes of the civil war could not be continued. Those restrictions included banning women from education and keeping all women, except for doctors, from working. Under their rule, anyone who did not follow their strict guidelines could be jailed or beaten publicly.
Their six-year rule was marked by abuse of ethnic and religious minorities and curb on seemingly innocuous activities and pastimes such as music and television. Even sports were highly regulated, as male athletes were told what to wear and matches were paused during the five daily prayers.
Their 2001 decision to destroy the historic Buddha statues in Bamiyan province drew global condemnation.
In 1999, the United Nations imposed sanctions on the Taliban for their links to Al-Qaeda.
Back to square one
The US invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, after the Taliban refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, who was hiding in the country.
The Taliban were forced out of power within a couple of months as the US and its allies began a bombing campaign.
A new interim government headed by Hamid Karzai was formed in December 2001, and three years later a new constitution was promulgated, which took its cues from the reformed constitution of the 1960s, when women and ethnic minorities were formally granted their rights by the nation’s last king, Mohammad Zahir Shah.
But by 2006, the Taliban regrouped and were able to mobilise fighters in its battle against foreign occupiers and their allies, ultimately seeing themselves in state power again.