The Taliban (Persian “Madrasa Students” or “Seekers of Knowledge”) is a fundamentalist Islamist movement that ruled Afghanistan from September 1996, when they captured Kabul, through 2001, when a U.S.-led coalition forcibly removed them from power. Though the Taliban governed all religious, political, economic, and social aspects of Afghan life, only three countries, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, recognized them as a legitimate autonomous political entity. Other nations refused to establish diplomatic relations with the Taliban after learning of their frequent institutionally sanctioned human rights abuses, particularly in reference to the harsh punishment of detractors, the execution of “criminals” without due process, the suspension of nearly all women's rights, and the suppression of nonreligious cultural activities (music, the arts, entertainment, etc.). Ultimately, their ...

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