How powerful is the Taliban? Comparing Taliban and Afghan security forces.

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The lightning speed of the Taliban advance in Afghanistan to take control of the entire country after US withdrawal shows the power of the Taliban. US and Nato allies were present in Afghanistan for 20 years, spent trillions of dollars, trained hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces, and equipped them with the most advanced weapons but now look who is having the Last laugh.

The US will completely withdraw from Afghanistan by 31 August 2021. As of today, the Taliban have taken control of 15 provinces out of 34. The US leaked intelligence report estimates that within 90 days Taliban will have control of the entire country. Above mentioned investment of 20 years with trillions of dollars may not last longer than 90 days. This blows the mind of many that contrary to media perception that Afghanistan is going to be a stable country post US withdrawal, the reality is far away from that perception.

Taliban will take over Kabul within 60 days: US intelligence
Taliban will take over Kabul within 60 days: US intelligence

Historical background

Let’s have a cursory look at the historical background and origin of the Taliban. Let’s find how it started. In 1979, Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to promote communism. To counter this invasion, the USA created mujahedeen to fight the Soviet Union. 10 years later the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan leaving behind ground for local insurgents to gain power. In 1996 Taliban started ruling the country.

Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1999 to 2001
Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1999 to 2001

It was September 11, 2001, when terrorist attacks happened in the USA. To mitigate the terrorism which was operating from Afghanistan USA and its Allies invaded Afghanistan to save the west from future serious consequences of terrorism. The longest war of 20 years ending without securing lasting peace and history is going to repeat itself because it is evident that the Taliban are gearing for power again.

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Power of Taliban

There are no two opinions on the power of the Taliban. A group of insurgents that engaged the world’s superpower for 20 years. Despite trillions of rupees expenditure to mitigate the Taliban, the USA has withdrawn without achieving lasting peace and stable Afghanistan. One can estimate the power of the Taliban by analyzing how the world’s key players were concerned about the post-withdrawal situation. Key players are Russia, China, India, the USA, and Pakistan.

Pakistan was bringing the Taliban to the dialogue table to negotiate with the USA and formulate a future strategy with the Afghan government. Quadrilateral talks between Pakistan, Russia, China, and the USA were held in past. In nutshell, Every country was concerned about the situation post US withdrawal. Russia was concerned due to geographic proximity.

Read more: Why are Afghan forces not able to stop the Taliban?


China was concerned for its own interests as it is an emerging world power and regional superpower. Unstable Afghanistan will haunt Pakistan the most because it is his neighbor country. The bulk of refugees and the infiltration of terrorists were a major headache for Pakistan. Pakistan has already lost 80,000 lives and billions of dollars in economic terms. So Pakistan was taking efforts because instability in Afghanistan is a threat to peace in Pakistan. India invested billions in Afghanistan to contribute to empowering the civilian government to compete Taliban.

Comparing Taliban and Afghan security forces.

There is a huge difference in terms of manpower. Afghan security forces have a clear edge over the Taliban for more numbers. Afghan security forces comprise the army, air force, and police. The total number is around 352000. On the other hand, it is difficult to tell the exact manpower of the Taliban but according to estimation, the core strength is about 60,000. Furthermore, personnel of Afghan security forces availed professional training from the USA army.
In the financial budget, there is no match.

Taliban compared to Afghan forces 325,000 vs 60,000
Taliban compared to Afghan forces 325,000 vs 60,000

Afghan security forces were given 88 US billion dollars. 90% of the money for Afghan forces comes from international sources of which the main contributor is the USA. It covers all expenses including salaries, vehicles, weapons, communication gear, and aircraft. Whereas the exact amount of Taliban money is difficult to say. But it is learned that the main money comes from drug abuse.

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World’s 90 percent drug comes from Afghanistan which makes 60% of the Taliban’s total budget. Additional money is generated through illegal mining and smuggling and extortion. From the above-mentioned facts, it is clear that the amount of money provided to Afghan forces is way ahead of the Taliban.
On training, Afghan security forces were trained professionally. They were provided the latest weapons, vehicles, devices, and aircraft.

Current scenario.

As of today, 15 out of 34 provinces are under Taliban control. There is no resistance from Afghan security forces against the Taliban. Another recent news is that the Afghan government has offered to share in power. This offer shows a defeatist attitude of the Kabul administration that did not show any kind of resistance when the Taliban were taking control and when they are fully ready to capture Kabul, the offer of power-sharing will make no sense for the Taliban.

Read more: How does the Taliban make money?

When the Taliban is getting the entire country with ease why will they share power with others(Afghan government)?
To conclude, it goes without saying that the Taliban is a powerful force that is soon taking control of Kabul. The future of the Afghan government looks bleak. The USA has already stated that forced government in Kabul must not be recognized. Peace in Afghanistan remains a dream.

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