KABUL, Afghanistan, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Corruption and a weak central government in Kabul leave many Afghan villagers with no other choice than to work with the Taliban shadow government.
NATO officials this week said the Taliban has a shadow government waiting with ministers chosen should the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai fall.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 when U.S. and international forces removed the radical Sunni movement from power in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
With U.S. forces preoccupied with the war in Iraq, the Taliban have evolved into a vibrant insurgency, regaining control over several Afghan provinces.
Taliban commanders in the southern Afghan province of Helmand started issuing travel permits in August from the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" in order to allow travel to and from the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.
NATO officials say the Taliban have shadow governments in 33 of the 34 Afghan provinces and local communities, concerned about the weakness of the central government, are looking to the Taliban for help, the Times of London reports.
Karzai won a contested second term in office through an election that was widely considered a sham. The Times said that while the Taliban enforce a strict form of Islamic law, many Afghans prefer that to the slow movement of a corrupt bureaucracy.