Taliban, Afghan forces declare Id truce

#GS2 #InternationalRelations

  • The Taliban and Afghan government on Monday declared a three-day ceasefire for this week’s Id-ul-Fitr holiday, following a sharp spike in violence as Washington goes about withdrawing its remaining troops from Afghanistan.
  • Violence has soared since May 1 — the deadline missed by the U.S. to withdraw the last of its troops — and while the Taliban have avoided engaging American forces, attacks against government and civilian targets have not stopped.

Taliban

The Taliban is a Sunni fundamentalist organisation and a military group that is involved in Afghan politics. They are part of the ongoing insurgency against the currently elected government in Afghanistan. 

  • The Taliban controlled almost three-quarters of the country from 1996 to 2001 and was notorious for their strict implementation of the Sharia or Islamic law there.
  • The period saw widespread abuse of human rights, especially targeted against women.
  • The Taliban officially refers to itself as the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’.
  • The word ‘Taliban’ in Pashto means ‘students’.

When the Taliban came to power, at first, the country generally welcomed the Taliban. The country was already suffering from long and bloody civil wars and hence wanted change.

  • The Taliban claimed they will restore peace and prosperity. They also vouched to enforce Sharia in the country.
  • Afghans were tired of the fighting between the Soviets and the Mujahideen and welcomed the Taliban, who were successful initially in weeding out corruption and removing lawlessness.
  • The Taliban introduced their interpretation of Islamic law, which meant that several rights were suspended for people, especially women and children.
  • They endorsed Sharia mixed with the Pashtun tribal code.
  • Women were required to wear burqas covering their whole bodies including faces; men had to grow beards.
  • Women could not go out of the house without a male family member accompanying them. They could not work outside.
  • The Taliban discouraged girls from going to school, and at one point, banned girls above the age of eight to go to school.
  • Public executions were held for those accused of murder and adultery. Amputations were also done for those accused of stealing.
  • They banned television, music, kite-flying, cinema, photography, painting, etc. Women were barred from attending sports events or playing them. 
  • People, especially women faced public floggings for any perceived wrongs.
  • The Taliban is also accused of carrying out massacres against civilians, especially ethnic or religious minority groups. Thousands were killed, women raped and people are still unaccounted for.
  • Needless to say, they did not believe in democracy.
  • The Taliban was much criticised for blowing up the 1500-year old Buddha statues of Bamiyan because they were idols.
  • Only three countries recognised the Taliban while they were in power namely, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. They are believed to have been receiving funds from both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
  • After the 9/11 attacks on the US, the Taliban drew focus from all over the globe.
  • It was accused of sheltering Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, who were blamed for the 9/11 attacks.
  • In fact, the US intervened in Afghanistan in 2001 to deny Al Qaeda a safe haven and a base to operate in the country.
  • Pakistan officially broke off diplomatic ties with the organisation after 9/11. However, many top leaders of the Taliban are said to have escaped to Quetta in Pakistan, from where they were controlling the organisation.
  • The Taliban were removed from power in October 2001 by a coalition of forces led by the USA and several other countries (including NATO nations).
  • In December 2001, a new interim government was placed in Afghanistan headed by Hamid Karzai.
  • The country gradually started reconstruction work after long years of bitter battles and underdevelopment. 
  • However, the Taliban was reorganised by its leader Mullah Omar after its defeat, who launched an insurgency against the Afghan government.
  • It wages war in the form of suicide attacks, ambushes and guerilla raids and turncoat killings against the coalition forces.
  • Slowly through the second half of the 2000s, civilian killings rose in number.

India-Taliban Relations  

  • India has never recognised the Taliban while they were in power. 
  • In 1999, an Indian Airlines flight was hijacked and landed in Kandahar, and it was suspected that the Taliban supported the hijackers. 
  • India also supported a key anti-Taliban group, the Northern Alliance. 
  • Following the backdrop of the peace talks between the United States and the Taliban in 2019, the Taliban has sought positive relations with India. 
  • To this effect, the Taliban have reiterated the Kashmir is an internal matter for India and will not seek to interfere in the matters of other nations.
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