Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, January 19th, 2020

Stark Difference Between Taliban’s Insurgency and Mujahidin’s ‘Jihad’

More than four decades of war has inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan people and filled them with strong sense of anguish and disappointment. Afghans still suffer severely in the wake of the ongoing violence and peace remain elusive as the Taliban faction continues its militancy against Afghan nation and state as well as the United States and NATO.
With the military intervention of former Soviet Union in Afghanistan on December 27, 1979, Afghan people, including their political leaders, were trained and sent to Afghanistan to carry out “jihad”. After the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1989, another phase of war between the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul and the mujahidin group, who failed to establish their own government, broke out.
The civil unrest between mujahidin, which inflicted further casualties on Afghans, was highly painful since the war was colored with the brush of ethnicity and political orientation. The civil unrest led to horrible consequences. Mujahidin had undone all the achievements made as well as the religious reward they allegedly received in the holy war. That is, the holiness of jihad was eroded and public perspective towards the mujahidin changed. Worst of all, a number of religious figures, who claimed to fight against the occupation, led the war against their own nation and state – this filled people with an outpouring of pain and hatred.
As a result of unmitigated conflict, the Taliban militant group emerged and dislodged mujahidin by occupying Kabul in September 1996. Subsequently, the unrest and challenges were compounded since the Taliban were also widely engaged in spilling the blood of men and women across the country. Lately, the Taliban cherished an ethnocentric idea and killed people on the grounds of their caste, color, and creed.
The Taliban group was also harbored and supported by Pakistan similar to mujahidin. But this time it was not acceptable to Afghan people since both the Taliban and Afghans were practicing Islam.
After the 9/11 attacks, the United States invaded Afghanistan, which led to the collapse of their regime. Afghans, who suffered severely under the Taliban, welcomed the invasion against the regime and hoped that peace and stability would emerge. After a lull, the Taliban were regrouped and resorted to terrorist activities. The group did not lose its contact with its former supporters.
With the Taliban’s re-emergence, peace remains elusive and Afghan people still sustain heavy casualties. The Taliban, who still hold their contacts with their supporters, claim that they fight against Afghanistan’s occupation and call Kabul administration as “puppet government”.
However, it should be noted that there are stark differences between the two. It was a public war against the Soviet Union, however, the Taliban’s terrorist activities against US and NATO forces as well as Afghan state and nation is highly different of the war against the Soviet.
First, the nature of Soviet invasion and that of the US is different. The Bush administration launched attack against the Taliban regime to revenge the 9/11 attacks and counter terrorism and insurgency.
Second, almost all Afghans welcomed the downfall of the Taliban regime and supported the foreign forces in this regard. It was not a mystery for Afghan people that the Taliban, who held heavy weapons, tanks, and helicopters also received order from across the border and their regime was “puppet” in real sense. Thus, Afghans were ruled at gunpoint. Afghan people disapproved of the Taliban’s radical ideology and their deadly and destructive acts, including their ISIL-style acts of demolishing historical sites.
Third, the Taliban carry out indiscriminate attacks and kill both Afghan soldiers and civilians. The Taliban can never represent Afghans rather it is no more than a terrorist group in Afghans’ perspective. Hence, the Taliban fighters are not supported by Afghans, but few are recruited in tribal belts as a result of economic constraint or being brainwashed, whereas, the bulk of their fighters are exported from across the border, where their leaders are settled. The similarities are that the Taliban, similar to mujahidin, color their war with religious tendency and claim “jihad”. Similarly, they enjoy safe havens in the soil where mujahidin did.
But Afghans still fear the return of the Taliban and curse them for their acts of violence. The Taliban and their supporters are viewed as pariahs by Afghan people, who believe that they do not want the emergence of peace and stability in the country.
To not mention the government, Afghan people support democratic administration and the current constitution, which has no room for the radical ideology of the Taliban. Afghans are highly frustrated with the ongoing conflict and urged the Taliban outfit on multiple occasions to reduce violence and stop killing people.