7. Resistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan continued in the late 1990s
The Taliban emerged during the Afghan Civil War, when multiple groups fought each other and the Afghanistan government’s troops. Following the Taliban’s seizure of most of the country in 1996, resistance continued in the north and in parts of central Afghanistan. When Kabul fell to the Taliban, two remaining militias, which had been fighting each other for years, joined forces. Tajik militia forces under Ahmad Shah Massoud joined with predominantly Uzbek forces under Abdul Rashid Dostum. They called their combined actions against the Taliban the United Front. They were joined by some Hazara militias as well as even some Pashtun, who opposed the Taliban’s religious interpretations of law. The United Front became known as the Northern Alliance in the western media, and controlled about 30% of the Afghan population. Several outside entities supported the Northern Alliance, including India, which provided substantial military assistance and intelligence.
The Indian support, in the form of clothing, weapons, mortars, heavy equipment, and money drew the attention of Pakistan. The latter responded with increased support of the Taliban, including troops, which joined with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda against the Northern Alliance. In August, 1997, Taliban troops and at least 1,500 Pakistani commandos overran the main military base for Dostum’s forces. Pakistani air forces provided support during the assault. The following year, Pakistani air forces bombed the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, as Taliban units prepared an assault on the city. Russia and Iran both claimed Pakistani forces were engaged in the fighting in Afghanistan in support of the Taliban, and by extension their ally Al-Qaeda. The fighting with the Northern Alliance continued, though by 1999 the Taliban controlled almost 90% of Afghanistan.