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Afghanistan: Life Under The Taliban

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Afghanistan is one of the poorest and most troubled countries in the world. The land that occupies Afghanistan has a long history of domination by foreign conquerors and strife among internally warring factions. At the gateway between Asia and Europe, this land was conquered by Darius I of Babylonia circa 500 B.C., and Alexander the Great of Macedonia in 329 B.C., among others. In recent years, war and lawlessness had destroyed much of the country; millions of people went into exile and brought its economy to a standstill. This paper looks to explore the recent history of Afghanistan, how the Taliban came to power, and the impact their Islamic laws had on the Afghanistan society including their treatment of woman.

Brief History

During the imperial days Afghanistan became a buffer zone when both Britain and Russia agreed that an incursion into Afghanistan would be considered a declaration of war against each other. Both respected this arrangement. After Britain's departure from the region, Russians increased their influence in Afghanistan with help and support from India, which wanted to keep Pakistan carved out of British India in 1947. Meanwhile, the Russians believed that the Americans, who replaced Britain as the new superpower, were too far away from this region to get physically involved. So in 1979, when the pro-soviet communist regime in Kabul showed signs of weakness, the Soviet Union sent its troops into Afghanistan. They faced no resistance and captured the entire country in a few days. However, the Soviets were mistaken about the United States response to their invasion. The Americans did not like the Soviet presence in Afghanistan as it could have allowed the Soviet Union to have undue influence in South Asia and the oil rich Middle East. In engaging the Russians in Afghanistan, the Americans also saw an opportunity to avenge their defeat in Vietnam.

The Pakistanis were equally keen to prevent the Russians from strengthening their position in Afghanistan, particularly because of the theory, which was popular at the time, that Moscow wanted to reach the warm waters of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Many in Islamabad believed that after consolidating themselves in Afghanistan, the Russians would make a move to take over Pakistani city of Karachi, the nearest seaport for the former soviet Central Asia. Pakistan also wanted to end Indian influence in Afghanistan because India had used its Afghan allies for stirring troubles in the Pakistani provinces of Northeast Frontier and Balichustan. The tribes living in these two regions have ethnic affinities with the Afghan tribes, and India and its Afghan allies were supporting secessionist movement in these two provinces.

What followed was a ten year long guerilla war. The United States gave billions of dollars, through a secret CIA operation, to revolutionary militia forces called the mujahideen (soldiers of God) . Thousands of people including more than 50,000 Russians were killed . With U.S. weapons and Pakistan's support, the Afghan mujahideen forced the Soviet Union to leave Afghanistan in 1989. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union pulled out, different factions of the mujahideen entered into a civil war.

Afghanistan Civil War

The Afghan civil war was been one of the deadliest and most persistent conflicts of the second half of the twentieth century. Nearly 2 million Afghans have been killed and 600,000 to 2 million wounded . More then 6 million Afghans fled to Pakistan and Iran, producing the world's largest single refugee population since 1981, while at least 2 million more Afghans were internally displaced . Thus, more than 50 percent of Afghanistan's indigenous population (estimated at 15 to 17 million persona at the wars beginning now estimated to be as many as 22 million) became casualties killed, wounded or made homeless by the war .

In 1996 the Taliban emerged as the controlling force of the civil war. The result has been the ruin of the country and society and very nearly the destruction of the people and their culture. Also because of the civil war the education system and other modernizing sectors of Afghan society were completely disrupted.

Who Are TheTaliban?

The bulk of the Taliban forces came from the Baluchistan madresahs on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border. The Taliban is actually made up of young men and boys who were raised in refugee camps. They were recruited from the refugee camps into ultraconservative religious schools in Pakistan. Most of these students came from rural areas in Qandahar, Helmad, Zabul, Frah, and some from Nimroze and Gazni. Becoming refugees in Pakistan for long periods of time caused these students to be disconnected from their social, cultural, and economic bond with Afghanistan. These young Afghan refugees were easy targets for those who wanted to plant seeds of their political ideologies.

Taliban Support

The primary support system of the Taliban came from Pakistan, they provided military aid and personnel, and Saudi Arabia provided the financial support. In addition, because Afghanistan is one of the world's two largest producers of opium, became a large source of revenue for the Taliban. Finally, the biggest potential for financial support comes from the wealth of the petroleum industry.

Taliban Government

The state formation by the Taliban movement was based on their interpretation of the Islamic principal of Khelafat. In accordance with the Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar Mujahed, the leader of the movement, is amir-ul-mumanin (the leader of the believers), which makes him respectable among all Muslims in the world . In Afghanistan, the amir-ul-mumanin also is the khalifah, who rules the territory under his control in accordance with Islamic law, shar'ah. All Muslims and non-Muslims who live in such territory are obligated to obey the Khalifah. A khalifah is selected by a small council of leaders who have religious capacity and communal trust. According to the Taliban, establishing an Islamic state means enforcing the Shari'ah in the land of Afghanistan and bringing security and peace to the people.

Life Under the Taliban

Upon seizing control of Kabul (the capital of Afghanistan) in September 27, 1996, the Taliban has instituted a system of gender apartheid, which has placed women into a state of virtual house arrest. On September 30, 1996, Wakil Ahmed, Taliban spokesperson, stated to reporters in Kabul "that woman should not report to work, they should stay home ." In a similar line of order, another source for the Taliban stated: In



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