The Taliban are presented in an almost entirely negative light by author Khaled Hosseini in The Kite Runner--a view shared by most of the world aside from the most ultra-conservative Islamic population. The word "taliban" translates to "students" in the Pashto language, and the Taliban primarily served as a Hanafi militia organization with strong traditionalist Islamic beliefs. When they gained control of major areas of Afghanistan, and its capital, Kabul, in the late 1990s, the Taliban began a systemized reign of fear and terror that included mass executions, torture, kidnappings, beheadings and the "skinning" of captured prisoners.
While in power, the Taliban enforced one of the strictest interpretations of Sharia law ever seen in the Muslim world, and became notorious internationally for their treatment of women.
The Taliban's laws severely restricted women's rights, and beatings and executions became standard punishments for women who violated its laws. The Taliban also practiced ethnic cleansing, particularly against the Hazara (of which Hassan was a member).
Although many people in Afghanistan welcomed the arrival of the Taliban after years of rule by a Communist government sympathetic to the USSR, Amir discovers the dangers imposed by the Taliban when he is forced to return in disguise during his hunt for Sohrab. Hosseini further explores the depths of horror that the Taliban inflicted upon the people of Afghanistan in his follow-up to The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns.