25 September 1996: the Taliban reach Kabul

After the end of Soviet involvement in Afghanistan, the Taliban reached the suburbs of the capital, Kabul, on this day in 1996.

Taliban in Kabul © Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
(Image credit: © Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, leading to a brutal war over the next decade. The US, Pakistan and others provided the resistance with logistical and financial support, forcing the Soviet Union to withdraw by early 1989.

This defeat helped convince the Soviets not to intervene forcibly in various Eastern European revolutions, aiding the demise of the USSR. But the conflict took a huge toll on Afghanistan; up to 1.5 million Afghans died.

After the Soviet withdrawal, the puppet regime was expected to collapse. But Russian financial support saw it cling on until 1992. The opposition, never united, fractured further. By the early 1990s, swathes of the country were run by warlords and bandits.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

In 1991 a group of students in religious schools joined refugees from camps on the Pakistan border to form the Taliban under Mullah Mohammed Omar. By 1994 they had taken Kandahar, Afghanistan's second city. By 25 September 1996 they reached the suburbs of Kabul, the capital. The main anti-Taliban opposition retreated, and they took power.

Over the next five years, the Taliban imposed Islamic rule, banning education for women and imposing draconian punishments for minor crimes. They allowed the terrorist group al-Qaeda to establish bases that were used to organise the September 11th attacks.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri