The capture of power by the Taliban after twenty years of fighting against coalition forces was beyond perceptions. The turn of the events was so dramatic that everyone was caught by surprise. Many analysts have projected the new Taliban as a modern, refined version with little linkages to the old Taliban. However, the streamlining of ideological commitments and political structure would take a much longer time than anticipated. Because the stringency the Taliban had imposed in the past makes it hard to believe that they have changed over the past 20 years. This is emboldened by the fact that people are desperate to leave the country; some have come out on the streets to fight for the national flag. Women are concerned about their future, and foreign governments are managing the exit of their diplomates and embassy employees.
Arshad Madani, Jamiat Ulema e Hind (A) president and a father figure for Darul Uloom Deiband’s students, recently said that Taliban would receive the support of Deoband only if they assure their commitment towards developing peaceful, just and right environment in Afghanisatn under which all the people of Afghanisatan must feel safe. Numerous studies and reports have tried to create links between India’s Darul Uloom Deoband and the Taliban during the previous decades, accusing the school of spreading radicalisation. However, the Darul Uloom Deoband has always maintained that they can not trespass constitutional limits. Their respect for India’s secularism and composite culture is unwavering. Darul Uloom has always denounced terrorism and claimed that it is against Islam. “Terrorism, the killing of the innocent, is against Islam. It is a faith of love and peace, not violence.”
It is a matter of great concern for policy analysts to look at how Taliban 2.0 as a state actor would behave and what would be the role of religion in the management of state affairs. The present Taliban looks more mature, learned and cautious in their actions and have signalled to work along with international norms; however, it is visible that religion would be the guiding principle. One of the striking developments would be to look at its relationship with the Deoband school of thought. Taliban derives its religious expression, language and orientation from Deoband, established in 1866 in British India, which emerged as a revivalist movement. Its doctrines and rigid interpretation of Islamic law have spread to many other nations, including Afghanistan. Therefore a debate has emerged around the position of these religious seminaries on the Taliban’s emergence. Some analysts believe that these seminaries can become enabling factors for the Taliban’s strengthening.
The question of the Taliban is for sure beyond the purview of the Darul Uloom Deoband; which has always tried to distance itself from extremist and radical organisations. It is evident that some observers would be watching how Deoband Ulemas would react to the rise of the Taliban. Darul Uloom clearly understands that the Taliban’s rise does affect them, and making any statement on it would mean falling into controversies. Having said that Taliban’s rise is a concerning matter for the international community and regional neighbours. Religious schools like Deoband should focus on imparting education and refrain from falling into controversies. Will Darul Uloom deoband ulemas issue statements on the rise and stringency of Taliban? We will have to wait and watch.