By Subhro Majumder
On 15th August 2021, the Taliban captured Kabul and Afghanistan’s current President, Ashraf Ghani fleed the country. He wrote a letter to the people of his country, however, they believe that they were betrayed by him. The US military has already pulled out of the conflict and it is also evacuating others with its aeroplanes and helicopters. To get to the bottom of this conflict, it is a must for us to learn about its history.
The background of the proxy war between the US and Soviet Union in the 1980s was in Afghanistan. The rebel forces in the country were supported by the US, whereas the country’s government was backed by the Soviet Union. With time, the power of the Soviets decreased and in 1989, it withdrew its forces from Afghanistan. It was perceived as a colossal loss for them and also believed that they made a huge mistake. It is an irony how the US reacted to the events in 1989. ‘History repeats itself’, you could say. Around that time frame, the Soviet Union collapsed and by 1992, Afghanistan was completely free of Soviet troops.
These events led to the making of several fractions in Afghanistan. These fractions ruled the country to their capacity.
However, four years later, the map displayed stark differences. A huge fraction of the country was captured by the Taliban and the rest of the area was further divided into smaller fractions. Post-1996, the Taliban’s influence in the country only increased.
By 2001, a massive section of the country was under the Taliban. A small fragment was headed by the Anti-Taliban Guerilla Groups in the centre and the Northern Alliance was controlling its own wing in the north.
In the year of the publishing of the map, a grave attack on the Twin Towers took place in the US. The US was shaken by the incident. It demanded Al Qaeda’s head, Osama bin Laden. Al Qaeda declined the demand. The US knew that Afghanistan was a significant hub of the training centres and commanding bases of Al Qaeda and that is why it decided to make inroads. Its main motive was to take revenge for the happenings in New York City, which it did, 10 years later in Pakistan.
As the US started gaining ground in Afghanistan, it provided support to the Northern Alliance and the Taliban’s jurisdiction vastly decreased. However, after a while, the US also started to invade Iraq. Its attention towards Iraq cost Afghanistan development. A large chunk of aid, resources and military forces were diverted towards Iraq.
One of the reasons why the Taliban never completely perished was that when it was needed the most, America’s attention was derailed. Additionally, ideological commonalities between the Taliban and parts of the rural population of the country grew. The Talibani mindset is prevalent in those areas and they are happy that the Taliban help ‘preserve’ their culture.
Since 2011, the US has been steadily disengaging from Afghanistan. And it is evident that there is not much to obtain for it by staying in that country. The complete disengagement took place a few days ago and with that, the Taliban started occupying the entire country.
Several instances also show that Pakistan is wholeheartedly supporting the Taliban. Nat Geo once posted a picture of an Aghanistani Girl on its cover. The girl took refuge from the Taliban in Pakistan. Pakistan filed a legal case against her. That is because, after the Taliban intrusion, Pakistan made its immigration laws so austere that it gets almost no refugees. The conflict between Afghanistan and Pakistan goes way back into history. A lot of people also believe that the Taliban is the direct medium for Pakistan to invade Afghanistan.
What lies ahead?
The comeback of the Taliban is a big tragedy for the people of Afghanistan. We all have heard about their approach to administration and their strict rules & punishments against ‘offences’. The relations of Afghanistan with various countries are also to be discerned in the coming months. Only four countries recognised the Taliban when it was previously in power. The US and the UN imposed sanctions on it and showed little sign to recognise the group diplomatically. However, with the stark difference in times, things look grim when it comes to the future of Afghanistan.
About the author
Subhro Majumder is a Content Writer who is a sports and technology enthusiast. His other varied interests often sway him into reading about history, politics and international relations.