Reports suggest that the Taliban are getting more organized as the weather gets warmer in Afghanistan. Admitting this, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, Combined Forces Commander in Afghanistan, said that the Taliban were regrouping in the south of the country. However, what remains unanswered is, why, even after four years, the Afghan government only holds notable control in a few provinces and cities and why are the Taliban able to regroup in Afghanistan in the presence of a government, its security institutions, and the international forces?
The answer lies in an assessment of certain factors, the prime of which is the weakness of the country’s security institutions. Severe irregularities and malfeasance has made these institutions ineffective. The Afghan Army, the chief controller of security in the country, is plagued with ethnic favoritism, drawing eighty-five percent of its personnel from the Pashtoon ethnic group. In some parts of the country like the Balkh province, influential warlords have placed their own militiamen into the army and stationed them to the areas under their own influence. Underage recruitment in the army is another rampant phenomenon.
An unsuccessful government campaign to eradicate opium poppy cultivation further strengthens the Taliban, who still depend on drug money. They have a monopoly over drug trafficking and the Afghan black market. This means the Taliban continue to earn money, part of which is spent on their madrassahs, institutions teaching religious subjects. The weak economic condition of many families in Afghanistan forces them to send their children off to these institutions where they are fed and clothed.Subsequtntly, the Taliban get recruits to replenish their stock of warriors and launch new suicide attacks.
The above factors point to two very broad reasons for the resurrection of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan:
- Lack of a well-drafted plan for the extirpation of the Taliban. In the beginnings of 2002, when the Taliban had just been toppled, the US spent almost one billion dollars each month in bombing the Tora Bora mountains in search of Osama Bin Laden while giving very little concentration over the complete extermination of the Taliban, causing them to survive at nooks and niches of the country. This negligence was again repeated when the sources providing sustenance to the Taliban weren’t effectively addressed. As a result, the Taliban have been able to re-emerge.
- Lack of funds and more importantly, of technical expertise to the Afghan government so as to enable it to strengthen its hold over Afghanistan by boosting the efficacy of its security institutions. In their current standing, the country’s security institutions are too weak to effectively counter even some, if not all of the security concerns in the country.
Afghanistan could still very well use a well thought-out plan-of-action against the Taliban. Likweise, the Afghan government can still use monetary as well as technical support in its evolution towards achieving the status of sole authority in the country. If not met, these two demands can spell Afghanistan’s fall into the Taliban age. This time round, however, it could have a far-reaching consequence affecting the international community more profoundly.