Q. In Aug 2021, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. Write about the current scenario of Afghanistan under the regime of the Taliban. Also, discuss the significance of Afghanistan for India.
Answer: The Taliban, a Pashtun, Islamic fundamentalist group returned to power in
Afghanistan in 2021 after waging a twenty-year insurgency against the U.S.-backed
government in Kabul since 2001.
The meaning of word “Taliban” in Pashto is “students” and is composed of peasant farmers and
men studying Islam in Afghan and Pakistani madrasas, or religious schools.
● The Taliban emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of
Soviet troops from Afghanistan and ruled most of Afghanistan from 1996 until October
● The first politically significant victory of the Taliban came in 1994, when they seized
Kandahar and imposed their rule. An ancient city, Kandahar is strategically located in
South-Central Afghanistan on the route connecting Central Asia, Pakistan and India.
● They enforced Sharia-based law as interpreted by their conservative beliefs in areas they
progressively took under their control.
● Their governance supposedly curbed lawlessness, they also introduced so-called
“Islamic punishments’. These include banning television , public execution and
lack of schooling for girls.The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha was part
of this extremist culture.
● At the height of their power, the Taliban controlled nine-tenth of Afghanistan (except the
Panjshir valley) before Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda carried out the 9/11 terror attacks
in the US killing about 3,000 people.
● The Taliban had rejected the US’s demand to hand over Osama bin Laden over
● The terror attack evoked an angry response from the US and its Nato allies which
was directed against al-Qaeda but also rooted out the Taliban from Afghanistan
for 20 years.
CURRENT SITUATION OF AFGHANISTAN UNDER TALIBAN RULE
● Government structure: The Taliban refer to their government as the Islamic Emirate of
Afghanistan, the title of the first regime they established in the 1990s. They established a
formal governance structure, with the appointment of an interim cabinet which is still
functioning. They are yet to form a permanent government and draft a constitution.
● All acting ministers were senior leaders within the Taliban; no outside political
figures were appointed, the overwhelming majority were Pashtun, and all were men.
● Moral policing: They revived the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of
Vice, made notorious under their 1990s tenure for operating as a harsh “morality police” enforcing strict dictates on social behaviour: gender integration, dancing, music and even TV and radio were banned.
● Ethnic killings: The Taliban themselves have posed the threat, carrying out invasive raids
and arrests in neighbourhoods home to ethnic Tajiks from Panjshir and other regions where
anti-Taliban resistance has been most active.
● Reports of extrajudicial killings, among former security forces and suspected antiTaliban groups, number in the hundreds.
● Currently Afghanistan lacks any basis for rule of law; Taliban security forces
determine what is criminal on the spot, and Taliban courts issue judgments.
● Restrictions on women: Despite initial assurance, the Taliban have kept women and
girls out of public life.
● Women hold no cabinet positions in the de facto administration, which has also
abolished the Ministry of Women’s Affairs—effectively eliminating women’s
right to political participation.
● The Taliban has also banned girls from attending school past the sixth grade and
barred women from working most jobs outside the home.
● Women are decreed to cover their faces in public and are banned from
travelling long distances without a male chaperone, and unchaperoned
women are increasingly being denied access to essential services.
● Economic catastrophe: Mass unemployment, a collapse of the housing market, and
increased rates of malnutrition are only some of the many tangible signs of an economic
● The value of its currency, the afghani, has plummeted, raising the cost of
imports and exacerbating inflation and a cost-of-living crisis.
● To make matters worse, Afghanistan’s agriculture sector has been affected by
drought and natural disasters, such as flash floods and the June 2022 earthquake.
● Humanitarian crisis: A humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scope has worsened the
situation for human rights.
● A minimum of 59% of the population now requires humanitarian aid, an
increase of six million people since the beginning of 2021.
● There are instances of arbitrarily detaining journalists, demonstrators, and
members of the civil society.
AFGHANISTAN’S IMPORTANCE FOR INDIA
India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links which can be
traced back to January 1950 when a five-year Treaty of Friendship was signed by the two
countries. India-Afghanistan relations have been further strengthened by the Strategic
Partnership Agreement, which was signed in October 2011. India’s interest in Afghanistan is
due to the following reasons:
● Geostrategic: Afghanistan is positioned at the critical junction of several big nations
aiming to be regional leaders, such as China, Pakistan, India, Russia and Iran.
● It has been the battleground for an India-Pakistan proxy war since 2001 and India’s
strategy in Afghanistan is guided by the desire to prevent a government that would
readily provide Pakistan with strategic depth and a safe haven for terror groups.
● Afghanistan is of vital importance as a tool of counterbalance to Pakistan and China.
● Energy: Central Asia has large deposits of oil and natural gas. Afghanistan is an
energy bridge and thus key to achieving India’s strategic objectives.
● Huge deposits of energy raw materials and high-value mineral deposits. A
substantial concentration of such resources is along Afghanistan’s borders with
Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan.
● Gas pipeline project TAPI (Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India) which
seeks to connect an energy rich central to south asia is a major project concerning
● Trade: Afghanistan is central to India’s New Silk Road, which is designed to connect
trade, transit, and energy in the Central Asian region to South Asia, and especially India.
● Herat rail link which will serve to connect the Hajigak mines to Herat and further to
the Iranian port of Chabahar via the Delaram-Zaranj highway, which India had
constructed in 2009.
● Afghanistan serves as an important market for Indian products, especially
pharmaceutical products, tea, cement, and other construction materials.
● India could tap the Afghan market for Indian origin defence equipment, and
extend our marketing to the Central Asian Region (CAR) countries.
● Indian Investments: India has been the region’s largest provider of development
assistance to Afghanistan since 2001, having invested US$3 billion in infrastructure
projects spanning schools, roads, dams and hospitals .
● One of the key India-funded projects in Afghanistan is the 42 MW Salma Dam or the
Afghan-India Friendship Dam project in Herat Province. It is a hydropower and irrigation
project that was completed and launched in 2016.
● The Afghan Parliament is another project completed by India at a cost of $90 million.
When PM Modi inaugurated the building in 2015, he said it was India’s tribute to democracy
● India has helped Afghanistan rebuild power infrastructure including the 220 Kv
DC-transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri, capital of Baghlan province to the north of Kabul,
for increasing power supply capacity.
● Telecommunications infrastructure in many Afghan provinces has also been restored by
Indian contractors and workers.
● India announced in February 2022 that it would provide 50,000 tons of wheat to
Afghanistan for humanitarian relief.
Afghanistan is known as the graveyard of empires and its history over the past half a century
suggests that alternative fronts resisting the regime in power do not take long to emerge. It also
demonstrates a tendency for external actors to support their proxies in Afghanistan. However,
Afghanistan’s social and economic development is essential to maintaining regional stability and
India has taken a proactive role in the country’s development. There is still widespread support for
Indian development and reconstruction efforts, even in Kandahar, the Pashtuns’ ancestral homeland.
It is time to capitalise on this goodwill and make sure that Afghanistan’s peace and development