By : Abhinav Malhotra
Detailed Account of Taliban and intricacies of Afghanistan’s current scenario
In the words of Victor Hugo, a French Novelist, and Poet of the Romantic movement
“An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come”
It is perhaps difficult to filter whether the present scenario in Afghanistan is an outcome of armies that could not be defeated or the entire idea/ideology that led to the invasion of the World’s largest producer of Opium “Afghanistan”
Let us first throw a sufficient amount of light on the basic terms and places to understand the entire scenario.
Afghanistan: The word Afghan is derived from the Sanskrit name “Asvakan” which means “Horsemen”. Officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, it is a landlocked country with its capital and largest City being Kabul. With pre-existing high levels of Poverty and Child Malnutrition, the country is now under the control of the Taliban.
Soviet Union: The Union of Soviet Socialists Republic was a Socialist state that existed during 1922-1991. The Soviet Union produced many significant social and technological achievements and innovations regarding military power. It boasted the world’s second-largest economy and the largest standing military in the world. It was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. After the Cold War, Russia Emerged as the internationally recognized successor state to the Soviet Union. 15 sovereign states emerged after the dissolution of the Soviet Union while the Russian SFSR reconstituted itself as the Russian Federation
Soviet-Afghan War: The Soviets interfered in Afghanistan in December 1979. During the early 1980s, the official Soviet media maintained that the Afghanistan Government had requested Soviet military assistance for humanitarian tasks. The Soviet-Afghan War was a conflict wherein insurgent groups which were known collectively as the Mujahedeen, fought a nine-year guerrilla war against the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) and the Soviet Army throughout the 1980s. The Mujahedeen’s were backed by: the USA, Pakistan, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, and the UK. The war continued for 9 Years. In 1989, the Soviets pulled out.
Doha Agreement: The Doha Agreement, also known as the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan, is a peace agreement that was signed by the United States and the Taliban on February 29, 2020, to bring the war in Afghanistan to an end.
Kandahar: It is the capital of Kandahar Province as well as the de facto capital of the Taliban. During the Afghanistan War (2001–14), it was a staging area for U.S. military strikes against the Taliban and other Islamic militants.
In the Pashto language, the Taliban refers to “students”. Paradoxically, the following details will reflect these ‘backbenchers’ of a different sort.
The Taliban is a movement of religious students from the Pashtun areas of eastern and southern Afghanistan who were educated in traditional Islamic schools. There were also Tajik and Uzbek students, demarking them from the more ethnic-centric mujahedeen groups. In September 1994, Mullah Mohammad Omar and 50 students founded the Taliban group in his hometown of Kandahar.
In 1992 tribal leaders in Afghanistan were fighting for power. Taliban came to Light in 1994. Some of their leaders had fought under the mujahedeen’s in the war against the Soviets. The Taliban had larger plans. They came from Kandahar on the pretext of making the cities safer. By 1996, they had ceased the capital. Afghanistan was declared the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan. This was the beginning of an ‘Unceasing Battle’. The conflict began in Afghanistan.
From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban held power over roughly three-quarters of Afghanistan. They Imposed their interpretation of strict Islamic Sharia laws. Absolutism prevailed in the Country. As per reports by International Media Outlets the Taliban were running their parallel courts of Justice. Their revenue in 2020 was estimated to be: $1.5B/Year from the Drug trade, minerals export, and taxes.
Then 9/11 happened in the United States of America. Osama bin Laden the key conspirator/orchestrator of this major terror attack was then known to be seeking shelter in Afghanistan with help of the Taliban. When the Taliban refused to hand over Osama, America invaded. Taliban was forced out of power (Nov 2001). The Taliban still kept fighting with all its might with Afghanistan Army/Police and US Army. Various events occurred between 2001 and 2019, but the Afghan Government with US Military and Diplomatic assistance succeeded in keeping the Taliban out of power.
In Feb 2019, negotiations between the United States and the Taliban in Doha entered their highest level. The talks between U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban official Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar centred on the United States withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban pledging to block international terrorist groups from operating in Afghanistan. These talks followed signals that President Trump planned to pull out seven thousand troops. On 17 November 2020, the American troops were reduced to half (2500). On 14 April 2021, Joe Biden announced complete withdrawal by ‘9/11’ but withdrawal started early amidst the complete capture of Afghanistan by the Taliban and the ultimate fall of Kabul. On 30 Aug 2021, US Army Major General Chris Donahue became the last US Army Personnel to leave Afghanistan.
The following statistics will show the horrendous nature of this war.
- 40000 Afghan civilians were killed till the beginning of 2020.
- 64100 afghan military and Police personnel lost their lives.
- 3500 international soldiers were declared dead.
- US spending on Afghanistan from 2002-2020: $815.7 B – Cost of War & $130.5 B – Reconstruction Activities
The following flow chart will make it easy for us to comprehend the timeline & series of events that led to the rise of these ‘backbenchers’ and where we stand today.
The following pictures help us understand the rapid advancement of Taliban control in 2021:
Presently the Taliban have de facto control of the Country. Haibatullah Akhundzada has been the Taliban’s bellwether since 2016. Their militia consists of over 85000 fighters & multiple training camps across the country.
The Taliban have now ensconced themselves in the ruling chair. Curtailing of women’s rights, enforcement of Diktats surely portends a gloomy future for the Country. Staunch-mindedness of the Taliban Leaders exacerbates the misery of the bloke. The Taliban are now calling on Islamic countries seeking global recognition.
As per the UN, the Taliban are attempting to exclude women from Public Life. The statistics provided by the United Nations are grim: almost 24 million people in Afghanistan, about 60 percent of the population, suffer from acute hunger. As many as 8.7 million Afghans are coping with famine.
The World Health Organization is warning of millions of children suffering malnutrition, and the United Nations says 97 percent of Afghans will soon be living below the poverty line.
My Take on the situation
As per the Data and figures mentioned above, The Taliban have converted Afghanistan into a Totalitarian Country with not even a basic guarantee for food and shelter. The Afghan residents portend a situation where they have turned penurious. Bread has become the staple diet.
There are many aspects that we need to consider before framing America as the culprit behind this dilapidated condition of the country. Let’s have a look at the Number of Soldiers deployed by the US in Afghanistan.
It is surely a matter of concern for any country when its soldiers have been fighting a two-decade long war on foreign soil. The intricacies of the diplomatic talks and agreements held between the US and Afghanistan at the beginning of this war may surely put the US on the Wrong Side of the story but the amount of resources and Lives lost in this war surely demand attention. To absolve the US of this retraction from Afghanistan is a matter of intense debate.
The Taliban don’t seem to be giving the residents a very congenial atmosphere to live in. The statistics mentioned above present a grim future for the Country. As concerned and rational humans, we must raise our voices in any form we can. The blessing of living in a safe country puts us in the position to contribute in the best possible way in making this world a better place to live for every individual.
As we conclude this article, it is needless to mention, initially, it was a battle of Armies, but now it is an idea/ideology whose time has unfortunately come.
Images Courtesy: Pixabay & BBC
- Start Here – Al Jazeera
Disclaimer: This article contains information gathered from various sources as mentioned above. This article has been penned for informative purposes, with no intention of provocation. The author does not accept liability for any errors, omissions, or damage resulting from the use of this article or the facts therein.