Taliban 2001 vs Taliban 2021: 20 years on have the Taliban changed?
- Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001
- The period saw suppression of civil liberties and women's rights
- The return of the Taliban to power has reignited fears of a return to the "dark days"
The Taliban took over Afghanistan on Sunday ending a two-decade-long effort by the United States to install a civilian administration in the warn-torn country based on modern ideals of liberty and democracy. The return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan has reignited fears of among Afghans about a return to the dark days devoid of even the basics of civil liberties.
According to the UN refugee agency, nearly 250,000 Afghans have already fled their homes since end of May amid fears that the Taliban would reimpose their strict and ruthless interpretation of Islam, almost completely elimination women’s rights, reports the Associated Press. Of those fleeing, nearly 80% are women and children.
The Taliban till 2001
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan for five years till 2001 when the United States invaded the country. The period was characterised by an overwhelming attack on women’s rights with women losing the right to pursue an education, the right to work and even the right to go outside their homes without a male companion.
The period also saw ruthless punishments in the form of public executions. They would chop off the hands of thieves and stone women accused of adultery. These punishments were imposed in apparently strict interpretation of Sharia law. Men were required to grow beards and women had to wear the all-covering burqa.
The Islamist group also banned television, music and cinema. Among the many excesses of the Taliban, one notorious example of 2001 stands out. That year, Taliban destroyed the famous Bamiyan Buddha statues in central Afghanistan.
How the Taliban was defeated
The world’s attention to the Taliban was drawn in the wake of the attacks at New York’s World Trade Center on 11 September, 2001. The Taliban was accused to have provided sanctuary to the prime suspects of the terror attack including Osama Bin Laden.
On October 7, 2001, a United States-led military coalition invaded Afghanistan and within two months brought down the Taliban regime.
Taliban 2.0: Is it going to be any different?
It is still too early to say how Afghanistan is going to change under Taliban’s regime. While there have been no confirmed reports of extreme measures taken by the fundamentalist group in areas they took control on their way to Kabul, but the militants were reported to have taken over some houses and set fire to at least one school, according to the Associated Press.
A group of people had taken shelter at a park in Kabul said that girls riding home on motorized rickshaws in northern Takhar province were stopped and lashed for wearing “revealing sandals”.
What’s next for Afghanistan?
President Asraf Ghani has fled the country and the control of Afghanistan now lies completely at the hands of Taliban. The Taliban have already decided to rename Afghanistan as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. While the wheels of history never turn back, what the Taliban does to a nation which was only beginning to heal its wounds after years of war remains to be seen.