Different Ideologies — Former Afghan Government, Taliban And ISIS

Afghanistan is a political unit that emerged as a buffer state between British India and the expanding Russian empire. The great cities of Afghanistan — especially Herat and Balkh — have long been widely known, not merely as neighbors of the Great Silk Road between Europe and China, but as targets of pillage by conquesting empires such as the Chinggisid and the Timurid. Yet the empires were notoriously prone to fragment in the face of succession struggles, and by the eighteenth-century winds of change were blowing in Central Asia, winds powered by the development and expansion of the modern bureaucratic state. Afghanistan did not feel these directly. It was never subject to European colonial occupation, and only on rare occasions, and with considerable cost, did European states seek to pursue military campaigns upon its soil. Nonetheless, its history was to be shaped by interaction with London and Saint Petersburg. The degree of consent given by power holders within Afghanistan to the processes by which Afghanistan’s boundaries were fixed is highly debatable. The borders between Russia and Afghanistan were largely demarcated through Anglo-Russian negotiations in 1873 and 1887, and the legitimacy of the Durand line – drawn in 1893 between India and Afghanistan – was to be a major source of friction after the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. However, by the 1950s, the reality of Afghanistan as a component of the international system was widely accepted.

Conflict is ubiquitous, all intellectuals and analysts are agreed. Post-conflict societies may find it extremely difficult to recover from cycles of conflict. 

There was a Soviet-Afghan War from 1979 to 1989, a conflict wherein insurgent groups, as well as smaller Maoist groups, fought a nine-year guerrilla war against the Soviet Army and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan government throughout the 1980s, mostly in the Afghan countryside.  

After 9/11, the U.S invaded Afghanistan with the support of its allies, drove the Taliban from power in order to deny Al-Qaeda a safe base of operations in Afghanistan. 

War in Afghanistan from its revolution and revolt in 1978-79 to the Soviet war in 1990, and the U.S led the international onslaught against the Taliban regime did not only have a regional, political, and security impact but also changed the global perspective toward South Asia in general and towards Pakistan in particular. 

On August 15, 2021, the Taliban came back into power! 


The Taliban’s ideology is historically entrenched in the world of the pre-1979, southern Pashtun village. The village contains various and competing ethical traditions, one of which laid the basis for the future Taliban movement.  

They wanted to impose the laws of Sharia; like restrictions on women or banning music, as they have their antecedents in the southern Pashtun countryside. 

A majority of them received a significant portion of their education in Afghanistan. The education of the core of the senior leadership took place in hujras, informal guestrooms in village mosques, and featured a curriculum that was far more emotional and irregular than the Deobandi curriculum found in major Afghan madrasas.  

The Taliban’s ideology has transformed over the past two decades. While the movement once typifies a ‘traditionalist’ Islam — that is, it sought to articulate and defend a particular conception of Islam found in the southern Pashtun village.  

The Taliban’s ideology is based on a particular epistemology, a theory of knowledge, in their case, religious knowledge. In the past, this epistemology was intimately linked to certain rural Pashtun traditions of virtue, but in the present, it is more similar to the ‘modern’ type of Islamist reasoning. This shift is largely a reflection of the pragmatic concerns of statecraft and especially of the large Muslim clerics and scholars community.   

The key transformation of Taliban ideology was a shift from an emphasis on exterior states through the knowledge of rites, bodily comportment, the Prophetic lifestyle, Prayer techniques, and schedules, and other aspects of everyday ritual to one that today emphasizes interior states of belief and loyalty. This shift which is strongest in sections of the leadership helps explain the movement’s embrace of once-forbidden items such as film and photography. The pragmatic exigencies of waging an insurgency spurred this ideological shift. 

Taliban’s ideology is to impose Sharia/Islamic Law in its complete and real form within Afghanistan! 

Taliban’s occupation 

After the peace talks, when most of the U.S military troops left Afghanistan as per according to the treaty. Taliban raised their official flag of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” above the Chaman border crossing with Pakistan on July 13, 2021.  

After a 20-year long war, on August 15, 2021, the Taliban came to Kabul and took control of the capital ‘Kabul’ and declaring that the war is over as Afghan forces surrendered and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. This swift arrival of the Taliban brings the Islamist militants close to taking over the country two decades after they were overthrown by a US-led invasion. The Taliban has begun the process of forming a government in Afghanistan. 

Here are some key points from the first press conference of the Taliban’s spokesperson after taking over Afghanistan: 

  • We seek no revenge and everyone is forgiven 
  • We will honor women’s rights but within the norms of Islamic Law 
  • We want private media to remain independent but the media should not work against national interests 
  • Afghanistan will not allow itself to harbor anyone targeting other nations 
  • Afghanistan will be a narcotics-free country 

“Now is the time when we will be tested on how we serve and secure our people, and ensure their good life and future to the best of our ability,” said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Deputy of the Taliban. 

No one will use Afghan territory to launch attacks, they said. 

Taliban fighters had been ordered to show “humility” and not harm any civilians or property as they entered Kabul and took up posts across the capital previously occupied by police and Afghan security forces.  


At first glance, the IS ideology of Salafi-Jihadism may appear indistinguishable from that of Al-Qaeda. Both view state and religion as inexorably bound together, such that all governance and political decisions are to be based on strict interpretations of the ‘Sharia Law’. In fact, however, the two groups differ significantly on several issues related to ‘Aqidah’ (creed) and ‘Manhaj’ (methodology). Especially the core dispute between Al-Qaeda and IS focused on the excessive use of ‘takfir’ (ex-communication) by IS, the proper way of establishing the Caliphate, and the use of End-Times narratives. And even though Zarqawi eventually pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden, fundamental differences remained and eventually led to an open split of IS from Al-Qaeda. 

The prevalence of jihadist-Salafist ideology provides fertile grounds for IS’ radicalization. Salafism is not a new phenomenon in Afghanistan. Its origins date back to the 19th century when followers of the Ahl-e-Hadith religious organization spread Salafism through establishing madrassas (religious schools) in Attock, Akora, and Kunar. From the 1950s, Ahl-e-Hadith indoctrinated many Afghan mullahs with the Salafist ideology, particularly in the provinces of Kunar and Badakhshan. In the 1980s, the graduates of madrassas materialized the idea of an “Islamic state” by creating “Islamic emirates” in the provinces of Kunar, Nuristan, and Badakhshan. 

The most prominent of the emirates was the Emirate in Kunar established in January 1991 by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former field commander of the Islamic Party of Afghanistan, and Jamil-ur-Rahman, known as Maulwi Hussein. Kunar’s Salafists were the last among the armed groups in Afghanistan such as Haqqani, Mansur, and Hales family, who recognized Mullah Omar as the leader of the Taliban. In the post-Taliban era, some prominent Salafi commanders joined the government of Hamid Karzai. They included Haji Jandad Safi, who became the first post-2001 governor of Kunar and later a member of parliament; Haji Rozi, who received the position of deputy governor post in 2002 and 2005; and Haji Rohullah, who participated in the 2002 Emergency Loya Jirga. However, their cooperation did not last long. 

Currently, in many parts of Kunar and Nangarhar province, Salafism remains an integral part of the religious landscape. Abdul Qahir Khorasani, who was from Kunar, and Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, who was from Nangarhar, both stalwart supporters of Salafism, were the first to declare support for IS in July 2014. They also became the founding fathers of IS Khorasan. Both Muslim Dost and Khorasani maintained a close relationship with the Pakistani Taliban, a source of which enabled them to actively engage in recruiting Afghan refugees for IS in Iraq and Syria. 

Taliban vs. IS

IS and the Taliban are divergent organizations in many ways. The Taliban, unlike the IS, has no global ambitions; it is an Afghan-centric Pashtun movement whose ultimate goal is to create an Islamic government in the country. Ideologically, the Taliban belongs to the Deobandi sect of the Hanafi School of jurisprudence. In contrast, IS identifies itself as jihadi-Salafist. Operationally, the Taliban has allied itself with Al Qaeda IS’ top enemy on the global jihad stage. IS considers the Taliban a tribal-militant organization, while the Taliban believes IS has hurt the cause of jihad by indiscriminately committing violence against civilians. Moreover, IS has a penchant for killing Shiites. The Afghan Taliban, despite being Deobandi, are not anti-Shiite per se. 

In terms of international law, the Taliban, being one of the parties to the intra-Afghan armed conflict, has the status of a belligerent, i.e., the warring party. The other party, the Kabul government, and the countries involved in the political dialogue recognize the Taliban in this capacity. The Taliban’s quasi-legal status was legitimized by the creation of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, whose role was to negotiate with the government. The Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the US was created to resume peace talks between the government and the Taliban. Its creation helped to further legitimize the Taliban as an important stakeholder in the Afghan theatre. The Taliban remains the largest military and political force with a presence in almost all provinces of Afghanistan. The group has steadily encroached upon strategically important administrative centers in the country. Therefore, it is difficult for IS to establish itself as a formidable entity capable of surpassing the Taliban. 

In simple words, we can say; Taliban belongs to the tribes of Afghanistan. They would rule the country according to Sharia law. But IS wants the whole world. 

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