The Taliban are a Sunni Islamist movement that ruled most of Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when their leaders were removed from power by a cooperative military effort between the Northern Alliance and NATO countries. Committed fundamentalist insurgents, often described as "Taliban" in the media, originating in the Frontier Tribal Areas of Pakistan, are currently engaged in a protracted war against the current Afghanistan regime, NATO forces participating in Operation Enduring Freedom, and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
The Taliban movement was headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar. Beneath Mullah Omar were "a mixture of former small-unit military commanders and Madrasah teachers" and then a rank and file most of whom had studied in Islamic religious schools in Pakistan. The overwhelming majority of Taliban movement were ethnic Pashtuns from southern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, along with a smaller number of volunteers from elsewhere, for example Europe or China. The Taliban received valuable training, supplies and arms from the Pakistani government, particularly the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and many recruits from Madrasahs for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, primarily ones established by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam JUI.
Although in control of Afghanistan's capital (Kabul) and much or most of the country for five years, the Taliban regime, or "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," gained diplomatic recognition from only three states: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Human rights abuses denied it United Nations recognition and most of the world's states, including Iran, India, Turkey, Russia, USA and most Central Asian republics opposed the Taliban and aided its rival (Afghan Northern Alliance).
While in power, the Taliban implemented the "strictest interpretation of Sharia law ever seen in the Muslim world," and became notorious internationally for their mistreatment of women. Women were forced to wear the burqa in public. They were allowed neither to work nor to be educated after the age of eight, and until then were permitted only to study the Qur'an. Women seeking an education were forced to attend underground schools, where they and their teachers risked execution if caught. They were not allowed to be treated by male doctors unless accompanied by a male family member or husband chaperone, which led to illnesses remaining untreated. They faced public flogging in the street, and both men and women faced public execution for violations of the Taliban's laws. While in power, however, the Taliban opposed pederasty, which has traditionally been an acceptable part of Afghan culture, particularly among the Pashtun majority despite Islam's opposition to homosexuality. Since the installation of the Washington-allied regime, pederasty has again flourished in Afghanistan; it is openly practiced, and many American soldiers and journalists returning to the US from the country brought with them revolting eyewitness accounts of the abuse of boys.
- Jalali, Ali A.; Grau, Lester W. (6 March), "Whither the Taliban?", The Cyber-Caravan, http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/990306-taliban.htm
- Afghanistan: Taleban's second coming - BBC News 2 June 2006. "After being routed in 2001 the Taleban found a safe sanctuary in Balochistan and the North West Frontier province of Pakistan. They have been able to set up a major logistics hub, training camps, carry out fund raising and have been free to recruit fighters from madrassas and refugee camps. The Taleban have received help from Pakistan's two provincial governments, the MMA, Islamic extremist groups, the drugs mafia and criminal gangs - while the military regime has looked the other way. Al-Qaeda has helped the Taliban reorganise and forge alliances with other Afghan and Central Asian rebel groups."
- ISAF is made up of 39 countries, including all 26 NATO allies but also many other non-NATO countries. See ISAF Troop Contribution Placement, December 5, 2007
- Goodson, Afghanistan's Endless War, (2001) p.114.
- Rashid,Taliban, (2000), p.29
- Dupree Hatch, Nancy. "Afghan Women under the Taliban" in Maley, William. Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban. London: Hurst and Company, 2001, pp. 145-166.
- M. J. Gohari (2000). The Taliban: Ascent to Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 108-110.
- A woman being flogged in public.
- PDF (857 KiB), Physicians for Human Rights, August 1998.
- "100 Girls' Schools in Afghan Capital Are Ordered Shut", The New York Times, June 17, 1998.
- Jim Kouri. Afghan Pedophilia: A way of life, say U.S. soldiers and journalists Examiner.com. January 19, 2012. Accessed July 24, 2013.
- De-Pashtunization of Pashtuns by Taliban by Khalil Nouri