Now that the 20-year American imperial project in Afghanistan has become a footnote of history, it is time to focus on the victors of this war: The Taliban. Two comparisons are worth making here, one, the fundamental difference between the Taliban’s debut rise to power and their current conquest; and, two, their expected conduct in power this time around like or unlike the previous one. History, current and past, provides the answer.
‘Who are the Taliban?’ So was titled my first news story from Kandahar in mid-1990s for an English daily in Pakistan. I was then a journalist and on a reporting assignment to travel to southern Afghanistan and investigate the instant rise of this Afghan militia. The Taliban had emerged as a ragtag group of madrassa militants under the leadership of Mullah Omar in response to years of Mujahideen infighting and oppressive rule. A major factor that contributed to the Taliban’s rise was the support from the war weary Afghan public for their swift enforcement of justice, disarmament and rule of law in the areas under their control.