The Taliban are racing across Afghanistan capturing key areas and cities. With nearly the entire country in their grasp, the capital Kabul isn’t far. Disturbing reports of brutality against women, execution of soldiers, restrictions on journalists are announcing the return of the fundamentalist authoritarian Islamist regime. Kandahar, Herat, Qalat, Terenkot, Pul-e-Alam, Feruz Koh, Qal-e-Naw and Lashkar Gah have fallen into their hands in the last few days.
Who are the Taliban?
Taliban is a military and religious movement that was founded in Afghanistan in response to the Soviet invasion of the country. The group was founded by Mullah Mohammad Omar, a Pashtun and a mujahedeen commander. The group was initially founded by Omar in the aftermath of the invasion that left Afghanistan a chaotic anarchic battleground of many mujahadeen chieftains and leaders.
Within two years, the group captured Afghanistan and imposed its own rules and laws on the country. The group ruled Afghanistan until 2001, when it was overthrown by US forces who had invaded the nation as it was harbouring Osama Bin Landen, the leader of al-Qaida.
During their 5 years in power, the group imposed its own strict version of the Islamic Sharia Law. Activities and media including paintings, photography, movies, musical instruments were banned. Men were forced to grew beards and women were barred from getting a job, education or even stepping out of their home without a male chaperone.
What does Taliban mean?
The name is a Pashto, the language spoken by the Pashtun or Afghan people, a loanword from Arabic. The word means ‘students’, as the first Taliban were students of a radicalised Deobandi school of Islam and the Pashtun tribal codes, called Pashtunwali.
What does the group want?
The group wants to control Afghanistan and impose law and order by following their rigorous brand of Sharia law. In order to do so, the Taliban has not shied away from acts of terror, war and guerrilla operations.
First Published: IST