The Taliban ruled for five years in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, establishing an Islamic emirate system. What is an Islamic emirate and what transpired during the Taliban’s five-year emirate in Afghanistan?
The Taliban’s Islamic emirate came to power in 1996 while the country was embroiled in a civil war that followed the fall of the Soviet-backed president, Dr. Najibullah, in the early 1990s. The Taliban’s emirate was originally established in Kandahar, under the leadership of Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s founding leader. After their establishment in Kandahar, the group rapidly captured wider territories in Afghanistan and soon established their emirate in Kabul, which held power for five years until being toppled by the US and its Afghan allies.
Some researchers say that the Taliban’s Islamic emirate was the most centralized government system ever in force in Afghanistan. Authority was held by the Amir-al-Mu'minin, and the Ahl al-hall wal-aqd council (a term used in political discussions of Islam referring to those qualified to appoint or depose a caliph or another ruler on behalf of the Ummah). This council was comprised of religious scholars, who selected Mullah Omar as Amir al-Mu'minin of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
“When they (Taliban) were in power and when they were removed from power, they had no achievements except killings and removing freedom and human rights,” said Sabir Azam, a political affairs analyst.
The Taliban during their regime had the council of ministers and the high council assembly but these two councils had an advisory role only and final decisions were made by the Amir al-Mu'minin.
Appointments and removals were all done under the order of the Amir al-Mu'minin, and obeying him was compulsory. After one pledged allegiance to him, there was no place for any dissatisfaction among the people, analysts said.
“[The appointment of] ministers and deputy ministers was consulted with Amir al-Mu'minin,” said Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.
Now, 20 years after the Taliban’s Islamic emirate in Afghanistan, the current government is trying to make peace with the group but the Taliban in their meetings with the republic negotiators have insisted on the establishment of an Islamic system in Afghanistan, but they have not defined what that means.
“A proper system, a government, was not established. Conflicts were ongoing. And there were people in their ranks that were not loyal (to rules),” said Mawlawi Qalamuddin, a former Taliban member when the group held power.
During their regime in Kabul, the Taliban imposed strict rules on the people and there was no freedom of the press.
Ilaha Sahil, who was 15 when the Taliban came to power in Kabul, said she received preliminary school education secretly and used to teach children at that time.
Now she is a photographer and says she does not have good memories from the Taliban rule.
“There was bitterness, and concern and the desire to learn,” Sahil said.