In 1994, the Taliban, an Afghanistan military group, formed under the leadership of Mullah Mohammad Omar in Afghanistan. It emerged from military forces that fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan from 1969 to 1989, called the mujahedeen. Fed up with their government’s inefficiency, these military forces formed an Islamist militant organization determined to establish a divinely ordered Islamic system in Afghanistan, with the belief that strict obedience to the leader of the group and a narrow concentration of power, was the most effective of control. The group successfully took over Afghanistan and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as the Afghan government in the late 1990s and controlled the country until 2001, after refusing to turn over Osama Bin Laden in the wake of 9/11.
During its reign, the Taliban government of Afghanistan became well known for its abuse of human rights, especially towards women, and tyrannical control of the country. Since the Taliban government’s downfall, the Taliban were able to regroup and gain new followers and have grown significantly in the last years. Today the group controls a significant amount of the country and they are steadily growing. With the recent US decision to remove a significant number of troops from within the Afghanistan borders and the Afghan’s present government’s seemingly increasing lack of influence, the Taliban seem to be on the rise to take back control of the country.
Unlike their first hold on power, in the land that the Taliban has current control, they have shown considerable evidence of a less tyrannical form of governance, that benefits and considers the needs of more members of society. This new shift from a guerilla group to a shadow government has drastically helped the Taliban expand its influence and maintain control of the areas. Today the group completely controls about 4% of the country’s territory and is a physical presence in an additional 66% of it, although it is hard to estimate how much territory the Taliban influences or controls. Their new form of government also proves to be more fair and efficient to a majority of the citizens in some ways than the current Afghanistan government. One source found that a significant number of Afghans he met had very low expectations of any government and that some local police forces in Afghanistan send criminals to Taliban religious courts rather than the official court system because of corruption in the current government’s judicial system.
After the Taliban lost power in 2001, the group focused mostly on violence and military attacks to gain control and influence, as they attacked schools, clinics, aid workers, and civilians. But as they gained more territory, the group began to focus on making a working government in order to keep control of the territories. In the most recent years, the group as an entire shadow government has not only has power in the areas that the Taliban control but their influence on services and everyday life extends far beyond into areas that the government claim to have dominion. Today the Taliban government has high-level commissions governing sectors such as health, finance, justice, education, taxation, and distinct chains of command in their territory.
The Taliban’s new government system has also become more accepting of outside groups. In their old government system, the Taliban were completely against working with outside organizations and countries for public goods and services. But today in the areas that the Taliban control the health and education, the system has become a hybrid of NGO and state-provided services, operating according to Taliban rules. For example, in August 2007, the Taliban gave the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) permission to conduct polio campaigns in the territories that they control. The Taliban has also been active in peace processes and negotiations. In 2008, the Taliban opened a political commission to conduct international and domestic outreach, and by May 2015, informal peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan Officials took place. The talks ended shortly after though because the Taliban insisted that it would not end its fighting until all foreign troops have left the country. Today the United States plans to remove a significant number of US soldiers from Afghanistan, and the Taliban are partaking in peace talks with the United States to decide a new situation in Afghanistan. These peace talks could lead to the Taliban gaining complete control of all of Afghanistan or at least gain more power in the Afghan government.
The Taliban’s political system has progressively grown and changed for the better as a more complex and flexible institution from their original government before 2001. The Taliban still does not allow a majority of the population basic human rights and the group’s foundation is still based on the ideals of strict obedience and enforcement of the Shariah Law. There is also a lot of uncertainty on whether the group will continue to show progress towards a more accepting and efficient government if they came back into power in Afghanistan.