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Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan

With the withdrawal of the U.S. forces, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, declaring end of war.

Birth of the Taliban

Taliban means “students” in the Pashto language.

  • Soviet invaded Afghanistan in 1979.
  • “Mujahideen” fighters (separatist group), with the U.S.’s support, repelled Soviet forces in the 1980s.
  • Soviet withdrew in 1989 and the government collapse.
  • Subsequently, civil war erupted for control of the country.
  • Taliban was founded in 1994 by Mullah Mohammad Omar, a local imam in Kandahar, as a faction for gaining control.
  • Afghans were weary of the mujahideen’s excesses and infighting.
  • Taliban rose to popularity due to successfully curbing corruption & lawlessness, making the roads and providing safety for commerce.
  • Proclaimed an Emirate in 1996 with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law.

Public executions, Amputations, Men required growing beards, Women had to wear the all-covering burka, Banned television, music and cinema, Disapproved of girls aged 10 and over going to school and Cultural abuses including the destruction of Bamyan Buddha

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE were the only three to recognise the Taliban government when it was in power [1996 – 2001].

USA participation:

  • Sep 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. by Al-Qaeda, killed nearly 3,000 people.
  • Al-Qaeda’s leader Bin Laden was in Afghanistan, under the protection of the Taliban who refused to hand him over.
  • The US intervened militarily; US-backed forces in the north swept into Kabul and conducted heavy airstrikes.

The US –

  1. Removed the Taliban from power (who moved into remote areas)
  2. Vowed to support democracy and eliminate the terrorist threat
  • NATO allies had joined the US and a new Afghan government took over in 2004.

Recent happening

  • In April 2021, Biden, declared that all US troops would leave the country by Sept. 11 2021.
  • Taliban stepped up its campaign to defeat the the government in May as foreign forces started to withdraw.
  • With a few troops left, the capital Kabul finally fell to the Taliban.
  • President Ghani flew out of the country stating to avoid any more bloodshed.
  • Many Afghan leaders formally handed over power to the Taliban.
  • The Taliban have now –
  1. Declared the war is over as Afghan forces surrendered and President fled the country.
  2. Installed themselves in the presidential palace with little resistance.

India’s Presence in Afghanistan

  • Barring a brief pause in the 1990s, India has historically enjoyed good ties with Afghanistan, which go back to the 1950 Treaty of Friendship.
  • Indian interests and influence suffered when the Taliban, backed by Pakistan, captured Kabul in 1996.
  • But India was back in action as soon as the Taliban were ousted from power after the US invasion in 2001.
  • India has made huge investments and commitments ever since, which run into over USD 3 billion, and cultivated strong economic and defence ties with the Afghan government.
  • Now, it is again staring at uncertainty with the US pullback having effectively changed the balance of power in Afghanistan and the Taliban making rapid territorial gains.

India’s Interest in Afghanistan

Economic and Strategic Interest: Afghanistan is a gateway to the oil and mineral-rich Central Asian republics.
Afghanistan’s main advantage is its geography, as anyone who is in power in Afghanistan controls the land routes connecting India with Central Asia (via Afghanistan).

Developmental Projects: The massive reconstruction plans for the country to offer a lot of opportunities for Indian companies.

Three major projects: the Afghan Parliament, the Zaranj-Delaram Highway, and the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam (Salma Dam), along with India’s assistance of more than $3 billion in projects, hundreds of small development projects (of schools, hospitals and water projects) have cemented India’s position in Afghanistan.

Security Interest: India has been the victim of state-sponsored terrorism emanating from Pakistan supported terrorist group operating in the region (e,g. Haqqani network). Thus, India has two priorities in Afghanistan:

  • to prevent Pakistan from setting up a friendly government in Afghanistan, and

to avoid the return of jihadi groups, like al Qaeda, which could strike in India


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