Post 9/11, when the foreign forces led by the United States invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban government was ousted immediately.
Being the power group in the territory, the Afghan Taliban had much civilian support, which mobilized them morally throughout the war on terror. It was until Trump’s tenure that their voices were being heard on diplomatic channels.
Throughout the crisis, the Taliban were marginalized to the extent that they started developing their own anti-western identity. The Taliban were ignored in a nation-building effort from the very start of the war.
Now, when the Taliban have occupied Afghanistan in its entirety, involving them in discussions from the start of the war could have been changed the world altogether.
Afghan Taliban Were Ignored in the Nation-Building Process by the US-led Western Front
Right after the Taliban were sent packing in 2001, Germany hosted a conference for the installation of a new Afghan government. The attendees of the conference were many, but none of the Taliban representatives was even invited.
This was the Western announcement that they did not want to entertain talks with the Taliban at any cost. Without incorporating the Taliban voice, the western world tried to impose its own model of democracy in the country.
The Taliban, who enjoyed widespread social support and remained engaged with the local stakeholders, felt marginalized to its core. As they were neglected, the identity crisis was sore in the region.
Then again, in 2002, when the new government of Hamid Karzai was elected in a so-called national assembly named Loya Jirga, the Taliban were ignored once again.
Fast forward to 2003, when the matter of drafting a new constitution for Afghanistan came into the limelight. Every stakeholder was invited but the Taliban.
Most likely, the western power groups did not consider the Afghan Taliban as a stakeholder, but their history suggested that they were the one.
When the Loya Jirga passed the constitution in 2004, the Taliban was sidelined again in the whole process, stretching the matter to an irreversible extent.
There is a school of thought that believes that the Taliban presence in all of these events would have injected their mentality into the government and constitution.
This is even a reality today; however, that the same Taliban who was ignored for this reason have now successfully captured the entire national landscape.
But their inclusion in the process could have made them more tolerable and inclusive over the years. This is how they evolved over time by remaining marginalized.
Now, in order to gain widespread acceptance, they are moderating their religious views and not implementing the governance principles that they did in their first term of government in 1996.
They are allowing women to get an education now, which they denied in their 1996 governance model. They know this time that establishing absolute curbs can never help them in maintaining a long-term rule in Afghanistan.
Their policies could have been diluted the same way even earlier had they been allowed a chance to be involved in the discussion processes.
Indiscriminate Violence: The Peak of Every Identity Crisis
When they felt marginalized, the Afghan Taliban had only one weapon left to them, violence. They butchered the general public and law enforcement forces indiscriminately over the years, which fostered the war on terror and the use of weaponry by the global west.
The dictum has also been validated by the likes of Zalmay Khalilzad, who mentioned in his book that the group was sidelined from most of the negotiations throughout the war on terror.
In the Obama era, the drone strikes on the Taliban outfits increased dramatically, which skyrocketed the death toll of the group up to a huge extent.
Amid their rising deaths and no offer of talks, the Afghan Taliban resorted to insurgency, as it was their only option left to fight for their survival.
What happened post-2017 when the Taliban talks began was quite predictable. When the US started engaging the Taliban on the table, they immediately gauged that the United States wanted to leave the country by wrapping up the mess.
It was their chance then to ignore the calls of the US government in every aspect. They declined to negotiate with the Afghan government, which was injected without the Taliban’s consent, as the group often labeled it the puppet of the west.
Had the western world remained in touch with the Afghan Taliban over the years, the peace talks could have materialized with a better result.
The Taliban could have been brought to work together with the civilian government of Afghanistan after the American withdrawal.
But as the famous saying goes, “As you sow, so shall you reap,” the Taliban followed the same way the westerns did for twenty years.
They did not bother to talk about the proceedings with the United States and the Afghan civilian government and acted alone to inflict misery on both of them.
It was a power show, where the in-power groups both times ignored others. First, it was practiced by the US-led western front; later, it was observed by the Taliban forces.