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With the US military withdrawing from Afghanistan, the dreaded Taliban are making comeback to the war-torn nation. After two long decades, the terrorist group is retaking the territory and overrunning Afghan military outposts, towns and villages. 

Taliban has survived deadly aerial and ground attacks by NATO forces for over 20 years and now announced their arrival with massive firepower. With the Taliban virtually standing at the gates of Kabul, concerns of many countries have increased and they are attempting to talk to the group. 

Who are these people and why are several countries, including India, deeply concerned about its comeback in Afghanistan? Here’s everything.

Who are Taliban?

Taliban is an extremist group believably depending on Soviet Union-era arms and opium smuggling to maintain their supremacy. There is commitment derived from a particular religion, pride and self-belief which has made the group stronger, making them the cause of concern of several nations.

Taliban in the Pashto language means group of students. The group emerged in northern Pakistan after the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in the early 1990s.

Initially, Taliban were predominantly from Pashtun-speaking groups. They are Sunni Muslims, and the majority of them have had theological training in Madrasas or Islamic seminaries. For them, the manner of life should be by their interpretation of Islam, which differs from other groups in Afghanistan and Muslims across the world.

Taliban’s interpretation of Islam is quite strict, refusing to take changing social reality into account. Their social, political, and economic systems are all based on Islamic values. Several modern Islamic intellectuals have expressed their criticism to such an interpretation of religion, calling it destructive to the worldwide image of Islam.

Taliban advocate for severe punishments such as public executions for convicted murderers and adulterers, as well as amputations for those found guilty of stealing. 

During the prior regime, men were obliged to grow beards and women were required to wear the all-covering burqa, but now many Muslim-majority countries no longer have these laws in effect. Some nations, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have Sharia-based laws, have also condemned the Taliban's way of life.

Their objection to schools for girls beyond the age of ten, the prohibition of music, and a slew of other human rights violations made them a vile group of extremists.

Also Read: Explained: What will be the impact of US military withdrawal from Afghanistan on India?

Why is Afghanistan worried?

The majority of Afghans who are educated and live in cities are concerned. Many of them had sighed with relief and fantasized about a future Afghanistan that would be free from the threat of Taliban.

Taliban had always threatened to return to power once foreign forces leave and now with the US withdrawal, they are standing at the gates of Kabul.

Afghans now worry that the Taliban will destroy the country once again and there will be more bloodshed as it may target supporters of the democratically elected Afghan government as well as foreign troops attempting to keep the peace.

They know that local troops would not be able to save them. In fact, Afghan soldiers are fleeing to neighboring counties for safety.

Meanwhile, some people are ready to fight against Taliban. This hints that a civil war may erupt in the country any time after the foreign forces leave.

Why are other countries, including India talking to Taliban?

With US military withdrawal, most countries are forced to accept that the Taliban is the future of Afghanistan. Following this, several counties are looking forward to a written peace plan with Taliban. They are hoping Taliban to provide a somewhat acceptable plan, following which the counties will exchange envoys with the new rulers of Afghanistan.

India is also trying to reach out to the group. India has aided Afghanistan in the building of infrastructure. Many Indian cities are home to thousands of Afghan refugees. Afghanistan's national cricket team was offered a home ground in India. In addition, India has spent millions of rupees on different development initiatives in Afghanistan.

Keeping all of this in mind, India needs to ensure that it remains relevant in Afghanistan's transformation. Furthermore, if groups such as Taliban come to power, India should be viewed as a neighbor who can assist in a variety of ways.

Diplomacy has its own rules and for the future of India, the ministry of external affairs has understood that a dialogue with the Taliban would not inflict any harm, especially at a time when the world's so-called superpowers have left countries to make their own decisions on Afghanistan.

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