The Taliban, or “students” in the Pashto language, emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The Taliban emerged in 1994 as one of the prominent factions in the Afghan Civil War.
- A large majority of Taliban supporters are students from Afghan and Pakistani madrasa, hence the name Taliban or – in Pashto – students.
- Although the Taliban officially formed in 1994, its original fighters were the mujahedeen, forces that fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan from 1969 to 1989. During this time, the fighters were covertly supported by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and its Pakistani counterpart, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate
- Kabul falls to Taliban: In 1996, the Taliban successfully took control of Kabul and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Mullah Omar became the head of state. Under the Taliban, strict Shariah law was enforced, which led to large criticism around the world for its treatment of women and children, as well as its denial of food and aid to underserved citizens. The group used various conventional and unconventional warfare techniques to achieve their goal of establishing a strictly Shariah-governed Afghan state.
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- Early popularity: Afghans, weary of the mujahideen’s excesses and infighting after the Soviets were driven out, generally welcomed the Taliban when they first appeared on the scene. Their early popularity was largely due to their success in stamping out corruption, curbing lawlessness and making the roads and the areas under their control safe for commerce to flourish. But the Taliban also introduced or supported Islamic punishments – such as public executions of convicted murderers and adulterers, and amputations for those found guilty of theft. Men were required to grow beards and women had to wear the all-covering burka.
- They also banned television, music and cinema, and disapproved of girls aged 10 and over going to school. They were accused of various human rights and cultural abuses. One notorious example was in 2001, when the Taliban went ahead with the destruction of the famous Bamiyan Buddha statues in central Afghanistan, despite international outrage.
- Pakistani support: Many Afghans who initially joined the movement were educated in madrassas (religious schools) in Pakistan. Pakistan was also one of only three countries, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which recognised the Taliban when they were in power in Afghanistan. It was also the last country to break diplomatic ties with the group
- Taliban regime is overthrown: They ruled Afghanistan until 2001. After refusing to turn over Osama Bin Laden in the wake of the September 11 attack, U.S.-led coalition forces with the help of the Northern Alliance invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the regime.
The Taliban objective is to establish a strictly Shariah-governed Afghan state.