The Taliban emerged in 1994 as a religious, military and political movement amid the civil war in Afghanistan. The movement is based on Islamic Shariah Law. Internationally, it was repeatedly criticised for the harsh treatment of Afghans to enforce the Islamic Shariah law.
As we saw in 1979’s Soviet Invasion, Afghanistan is a soil of fighters. The occupation had triggered the foundation of the communist government. More than one million lives have been lost in this war. In 1989, Soviet troops left Afghanistan. The Mujahideen overthrew the installed Afghan ruler, Najibullah, triggering another civil war. In 1996, the Taliban was able to seize control of the capital city (Kabul) and impose the strict Islamic Shariah Law. Following the 9/11 attack in 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan for the elimination of Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. Hamid Karzai was appointed by the US as the head of an interim power-sharing government. NATO assumed responsibility for maintaining peace in 2002.
When Ashraf Ghani was elected president in 2014, NATO ended its mission on growing insurgency.
And now, Kabul has been recaptured after the withdrawal of the US troops as per the Doha agreement of 2019. According to Brown University’s Research, an estimated 69,000 Afghan security personnel have lost their lives while almost 51,000 militants and civilians have been killed in this war.
After the longest war of 20 years, the Taliban are now being seen with a new approach and ideology. They seem determined to respect the fundamental human rights in their governance per Islamic teachings. These include rights of education of women and girls; freedom of expression; right to participation of females; abolition of attacks on civilians; freedom to media, and accountability for serious war crimes and human rights violations. Since 2015, the Taliban are seen ensuring internal accountability by their public statements and portraying their moderate image. Females are being allowed to attend schools and work while the Taliban have announced an amnesty for those Afghans who worked with the former governments, the US, or its allies.
A new approach in their ideology could be seen and a new Taliban emerge. Their spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, also stated that they have learned a lot from this war and today’s Taliban are changed with a new approach and this victory is a lesson for invaders.
Democratic Chair of the House (Foreign Affairs Committee), Gregory Meeks, stated to MSNBD that one should never say never, but the Taliban have to show a lot in upholding the human rights principles with time. No doubt, this war has been won by determination and faith by the Taliban. As defence analyst Lt General (R) Ghulam Mustafa claimed, the Taliban’s emaan and determination for freedom have shown their ideology and opened an exemplary path for freedom fighters.
Since 2001, the US has attempted to preserve security gains and political human rights in Afghanistan. Another humanitarian crisis in the form of a renewed wave of refugees has forced the neighbouring countries to respond. In addition, Pakistan, India, China and Russia are showing interest in Afghanistan for their influence. China’s main objective is to reduce instability in Afghanistan, eliminate terrorism, and pursue its minerals for trade purposes.
Another defence analyst, Maj General (R) Inam Ul Haq, has stated that Afghanistan has up to $3 trillion minerals, 60 million tonnes of copper, 2.2 million tonnes of iron ore and 1.4 million tonnes of rare minerals. Being a Muslim neighbouring county, Pakistan is also looking forward to a stable Afghanistan while China is being considered a potential trade partner. Russia also wants to benefit economically without interfering directly with the presence of China, India, and Iran in a potential regional economic trade system. India showed its presence with the developmental infrastructure in the form of roads, dams, electricity transmission lines, substations, hospitals, and schools but with the withdrawal of the US troops, it appears demoralised.
In a nutshell, after 20 years of war, the Taliban are re-emerging with a new approach. US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, once stated that war was a short-lived success, the matter remained of changing the behaviour, attitude, and will of people. In the case of Afghanistan, the negotiations did prove to be a vital turning point for a peaceful and acceptable solution to the conflict. We all are looking forward to a stable and democratic government so that all fundamental human rights can be upheld in Afghanistan.
The writer is a researcher and columnist from Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.