For the other ethnic groups in Afghanistan, such as Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks, and the inhabitants of the larger cities, particularly Kabul, Taliban policies were imports from another culture.
But even the Taliban’s harshest critics before 9/11 could not deny their one achievement: They restored order to much of the country. During the early 1990s, Afghanistan had become a patchwork of fiefdoms held by competing warlords enmeshing Afghans in a brutal civil war. The Taliban defeated most of those warlords and brought law and order at the cost of also imposing a draconian theocracy.
A “new” Taliban?
The Taliban are claiming today that they have changed during the past two decades; that they are a kinder, gentler Taliban.
“Within the framework of sharia” is the important modifier in this assertion, since the Taliban’s understanding of sharia means that women cannot work outside their homes, except perhaps in some very limited roles, such as working as doctors who treat only female patients.
In the years before 9/11, many millions of Afghans lived under the yoke of the Taliban’s incompetent, brutal rule. They have good reason today to be skeptical of the “kinder, gentler” Taliban.